Monday, January 4, 2010

Review: Status Anxiety

Status Anxiety

Really interesting. I don't tend to read this kind of thing, but I saw his TED talk about status, and despite status being something I don't think about a lot, his delivery was interesting and he had some solid ideas.

The book's a short philosophical exercise that goes through causes, and then solutions, of anxiety we feel about status. Both run the gamut from religion, politics, lovelessness, history, and other ways of looking at how we've looked at life over the last couple millennia. Do we put up with gargantuan divides between the high status folks and low status folks because we think people get what they deserve? Because we think that after we die people get to "live" in the way they should have in life? Because there's a constant struggle to right the system (the arc of justice is long but bends toward justice)? Because the world's mean, and mean people can get what they want by taking it (and give their high status to their kids who are equally undeserving)? And why do we feel the need to compare ourselves to each other?

He answers some of these questions, but the value is in raising the questions in interesting and well-thought-out manners.

Most importantly, his writing is superb, and clear. It's a book I'll end up buying some time soon so as to have an example of clear writing when I'm feeling unclear (just as I'll read a bit of Bill Bryson to get in the witty/funny mood for an email I've been meaning to write).


  1. I considered picking this for my book club. I didn't end up picking it, but looks like I should give it a read anyway.

  2. It's a lot more interesting than I thought it'd be. Here's his TED talk:

    I was impressed enough to read the book - I guess it's as close to self-help as I'll get?