qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Status Publicity

Channel 4 viewers will have noticed over the past week or so heavy plugging for Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety documentary last night. I'm sure it was a complete coincidence that verlaine noticed a piece in the Grauniad this week by said gentleman on the same topic, and that I also noticed he had weedled his way into the Travel section of yesterday's Independent, again on the same subject (with just enough travel twist to justify its placement). I'm sure all of this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the publication of his book of the same title.

The documentary itself should be nominated for the Barry Norman Awards for the Preservation of the Obvious. If we desire things that we feel ought to be within reach but aren't, we are unhappy. If we meet our expectations (either because we have oodles of money, or have low expectations), then we are happy.

The only bone I have to pick (apart from the fact that it took two hours to draw those conclusions) is the contention that we will be happy by ignoring what others think of us. At a certain level, this is fine, but we do not live in isolation. One of the other great plagues of our time (according to Frank Field and Reichsminister Blunkett) is antisocial behaviour. Surely this is, in some sense or other, the result of not caring what others (outside of an immediate social circle) think of us, or how we impinge upon them? And yet, by the status anxiety argument, these people are the most unhappy because they live with the greatest relative deprivation, and see others climbing a social ladder that is beyond them. I suspect the program's thesis only stands from a chattering classes viewpoint. How ironic.
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