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Status Anxiety: How Individuality Became The New Conformity

One concern, above all, keeps us awake at night: status. Am I a success? Have I made it? Do I have the right car, the right clothes? Do people think I’m a loser and should I really care?

In Status Anxiety, philosopher and author Alain de Botton challenges the idea that what we do, where we live and what we own should define our status and determine our happiness.

Is Individuality The New Conformity?

In today’s hyper-consumerist world, we are constantly being told by the media and advertising that we special.

Social media has provided a new way to assuage the guilt of privilege through virtue signaling and many forms of political and social activism have become trendy ways to affirm specialness and defy conventional standards.

The new hyper-individualism is defined by a rejection of traditional cultural norms and a desire to be defined by a rebellion from the status quo.

This cultural shift has been documented in excellent books such as Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism and Thomas Frank’s The Conquest of Cool but I think Alain de Botton’s documentary film Status Anxiety really gets to the heart of the problem.

Status Anxiety traces the history of Americanization and the evolution of global consumer capitalism and cultural neo-liberalism to illuminate how we got to this place.

It also optimistically explores how we might be able to address today’s mental health crisis by restoring a deeper sense of community and belonging in modern societies.

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