In an Unequal America, We Buy Our Way to Happiness
We are living through another gilded age, but unlike the late 19th century, extremely high income inequality has failed to stoke popular fervor.
We are living through another gilded age, but unlike the late 19th century, extremely high income inequality has failed to stoke popular fervor. Yes, we have Elizabeth Warren, notable for her singularity, but a broader social movement has failed to coalesce. In 2013, for example, only 5 percent of Americans identified the poor or middle class as their most important concern.
So why we are unequal, but happy? Steven Quartz, professor of philosophy and neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology, says that emotion-laden consumerism has helped us achieve a baseline contentment, even if more objective standards of social justice fall short.
"Consumerism has expanded the lifestyles, niches, and brands that supply the statuses we seek."
More than ever, says Quartz, products available for purchase attach themselves to our values: If you care for the environment, buying a Prius makes you feel good; if luxury goods soothe you, designer handbags are priced for the masses; if you fancy yourself to be a free and creative thinker, a Mac will make you feel at home; and so on...
"The pursuit of 'the cool,' in our view, fundamentally altered the psychological motivations underlying our consumer choices."
During the 1960s, the American counterculture purposely inverted elite values, preferring James Dean's leather jacket to the business suit of advertising executives. But today, values are more diverse and keeping up with the Joneses often means out-cooling them — and there is no shortage of opportunity to purchase coolness.
Kate Pickett is a professor of Epidemiology at the University of York.
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Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
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