recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : davidbrooks   36

The Great Affluence Fallacy - The New York Times
"In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side. The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal. As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something: No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one.

This struck them as strange. Colonial society was richer and more advanced. And yet people were voting with their feet the other way.

The colonials occasionally tried to welcome Native American children into their midst, but they couldn’t persuade them to stay. Benjamin Franklin observed the phenomenon in 1753, writing, “When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.”

During the wars with the Indians, many European settlers were taken prisoner and held within Indian tribes. After a while, they had plenty of chances to escape and return, and yet they did not. In fact, when they were “rescued,” they fled and hid from their rescuers.

Sometimes the Indians tried to forcibly return the colonials in a prisoner swap, and still the colonials refused to go. In one case, the Shawanese Indians were compelled to tie up some European women in order to ship them back. After they were returned, the women escaped the colonial towns and ran back to the Indians.

Even as late as 1782, the pattern was still going strong. Hector de Crèvecoeur wrote, “Thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those aborigines having from choice become European.”

I first read about this history several months ago in Sebastian Junger’s excellent book “Tribe.” It has haunted me since. It raises the possibility that our culture is built on some fundamental error about what makes people happy and fulfilled.

The native cultures were more communal. As Junger writes, “They would have practiced extremely close and involved child care. And they would have done almost everything in the company of others. They would have almost never been alone.”

If colonial culture was relatively atomized, imagine American culture of today. As we’ve gotten richer, we’ve used wealth to buy space: bigger homes, bigger yards, separate bedrooms, private cars, autonomous lifestyles. Each individual choice makes sense, but the overall atomizing trajectory sometimes seems to backfire. According to the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression by as much as eight times the rate as people in poor countries.

There might be a Great Affluence Fallacy going on — we want privacy in individual instances, but often this makes life generally worse.

Every generation faces the challenge of how to reconcile freedom and community — “On the Road” versus “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But I’m not sure any generation has faced it as acutely as millennials.

In the great American tradition, millennials would like to have their cake and eat it, too. A few years ago, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came out with a song called “Can’t Hold Us,” which contained the couplet: “We came here to live life like nobody was watching/I got my city right behind me, if I fall, they got me.” In the first line they want complete autonomy; in the second, complete community.

But, of course, you can’t really have both in pure form. If millennials are heading anywhere, it seems to be in the direction of community. Politically, millennials have been drawn to the class solidarity of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Hillary Clinton — secretive and a wall-builder — is the quintessence of boomer autonomy. She has trouble with younger voters.

Professionally, millennials are famous for bringing their whole self to work: turning the office into a source of friendships, meaning and social occasions.

I’m meeting more millennials who embrace the mentality expressed in the book “The Abundant Community,” by John McKnight and Peter Block. The authors are notably hostile to consumerism.

They are anti-institutional and anti-systems. “Our institutions can offer only service — not care — for care is the freely given commitment from the heart of one to another,” they write.

Millennials are oriented around neighborhood hospitality, rather than national identity or the borderless digital world. “A neighborhood is the place where you live and sleep.” How many of your physical neighbors know your name?

Maybe we’re on the cusp of some great cracking. Instead of just paying lip service to community while living for autonomy, I get the sense a lot of people are actually about to make the break and immerse themselves in demanding local community movements. It wouldn’t surprise me if the big change in the coming decades were this: an end to the apotheosis of freedom; more people making the modern equivalent of the Native American leap."
society  capitalism  davidbrooks  2016  history  sebastianjunger  communalism  nativeamericans  abundance  depression  us  affluence  millenials  johnmcknight  peterblock  consumerism  care  hospitality  nationalism  local  community  privacy  isolation  competition  autonomy  berniesanders  solidarity  wealth  atomization  well-being  qualityoflife  hectordecrèvecoeur 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Don’t Buy This Jacket | New Republic
"As ad campaigns go, the anti-shopping, pro-wholesomeness approach on the surface more appealing than, say, that other thing companies seem to be doing these days, where they go think-piece viral through a now-predictable pattern of offending and apologizing. Oh look, Bloomingdales thinks date-rape is OK! Oh wait, no it doesn’t! And then the next thing you know—whether this was the store’s explicit plan or not—you’re on their website drool-scrolling this season’s denim. But this is in its way even more nefarious, because it’s about telling certain consumers that their consumption somehow doesn’t count. It’s about encouraging virtue-signaling of the most pointless, and expensive, kind.

The genius is in convincing high-end shoppers that they’re better people than the rest of us. My all-time favorite example in this area remains the time when a bunch of fashion types wore their clothes inside out because garment workers, or something. I mean, the point was to reveal the labels of their clothes, to show that they cared where their clothes came from, in the traceability sense. A noble goal, in theory, but also an opportunity to show off… designer labels. The kicker was designer Stella McCartney earnestly posing in an inside-out Stella McCartney top.

The outdoorsy version takes things one step further, though, bringing into play not just garment-industry ethics but the eternal Stuff versus Experiences non-debate, wherein people who prefer a dangerous mountain hike to a dangerous-in-its-own-way trip to Sephora get to feel smug. Never mind that experiences (certainly the Instagram-worthy ones) have a way of costing at least as much as stuff, thanks to travel costs, not to mention the cost of all that REI gear. Preferring a dangerous mountain hike to a dangerous-in-its-own-way trip to Sephora doesn’t make you superior. Spending time in nature doesn’t necessarily coincide with preservation. But it’s coded-male, coded-upper-class to choose hiking over, say, scouring lower Manhattan for cheap handbags, so clearly the former activity is just better.

By planting itself firmly on Team Experiences, REI has managed to symbolically reclassify the stuff it sells as not-stuff. Patagonia’s fleeces are part-recycled? REI’s are made out of antimatter. You are not-shopping by shopping there.

REI’s protest of Black Friday has gotten a tremendous amount of sympathetic coverage, from The Today Show to The Onion. And it’s somewhat understandable: They’re giving their workers a paid day off at a time of year when that’s likely to be particularly appreciated. As sancti-marketing goes, a day off certainly beats vegan Canadian handbag company Matt & Nat’s recent, now-removed job ad for an unpaid copywriter, an unfortunate choice for a company that puts “ethics” front and center.

The move is also about highlighting the fact that REI is a cooperative, which is less straightforwardly positive. It involves asking customers to pay $20 to become members, which, like the hashtag campaign, fits neatly into the message that paying retail is a noble act. The REI shopper has $20 to spare, $20 to invest in a future filled with adventure vacations, thus giving the brand a certain exclusivity.

In a column otherwise praising the new minimalism, contemplative-phase David Brooks briefly returned to the stronger, more cynical themes of his earlier work: “One of the troublesome things about today’s simplicity movements is that they are often just alternate forms of consumption,” adding, “There’s a whiff of the haute bourgeoisie ethos here—that simplification is not really spiritual or antimaterialism; just a more refined, organic, locally grown and morally status-building form of materialism.” Precisely. I’d add that there’s something worse about the materialism that poses as the opposite. I’d take sponsored content over the sponsored content posing as a good deed.

To be clear, the problem with sancti-marketing isn’t that specific companies’ ecological or labor claims are untrue. It’s great if companies behave ethically, and fair that they’d want to use this to their advantage. I’d just like it if we could admit that shopping is shopping, stuff is stuff. New hiking boots purchased to look out over a vista aren’t somehow less yay-new-shoes than new patent leather ballet flats worn to explore a city, which is also, let it be known, a form of Outside. "
rei  patagonia  phoebemaltzbovy  2015  consumerism  elitism  anitmaterialism  davidbrooks  #optoutside  minimalism  cynicism  simplicity  consumption 
june 2016 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
L'Hôte: authoritarianism from the inside
"The conceit of this piece by Josh Marshall is that there's some great mystery to why some people feel differently than he does about whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. In fact it's brutally simple: Marshall sees nothing to fear from authority and the state, because he is one of the Chosen People of authority and the state. Meanwhile, those who are not among the elect fear and distrust authority, because it daily oppresses them. This fear and distrust is as rational as a thing can be, but Marshall cannot bring himself to believe in it.

Marshall has that in common with Jeffrey Toobin, Richard Cohen, and David Brooks: no reason to fear the police state. Why should they? They are, all of them, American aristocrats: white, male, rich, and properly deferential to anyone with a title or a badge or authority or an office. Of course they don't know why anyone would worry about limitless surveillance. They themselves have nothing to fear because they are the overclass. They can't imagine what it might be like to be Muslim or black or poor or to have any other characteristic that removes them from the ranks of the assumed blameless."

[via http://www.theamericanconservative.com/jacobs/insiders-and-outsiders/ where Alan Jacobs responds with agreement]
2013  alanjacobs  freddiedeboer  left  traditionalists  cslewis  georgeorwell  1984  animalfarm  civilliberties  surveillance  exclusion  power  authority  authoritarianism  davidbrooks  bradleymanning  edwardsnowden  policy  government  society  difference  jeffreytoobin  richardcohen  policestate  culture 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Insiders and Outsiders | The American Conservative
[In reaction to: http://lhote.blogspot.com/2013/06/authoritarianism-from-inside.html ]

"…this is one of the key points where the people of the real Left, like Freddie, and traditionalists, like me, find their interests and viewpoints converging. We suspect the vast and ever-increasing powers of the militaristic surveillance state for very similar reasons: we see its infinite voraciousness, its lust either to consume or erase differences, and its willingness to persecute and prosecute anyone who won’t get on board.

This convergence is not new…

However, the concerns of the two groups are not identical. Traditionalists tend to focus on forming and sustaining their own “little platoons” in freedom from governmental interference; they want to be allowed to stay outside the main stream of American culture, at least to some degree. The genuine left is more focused on how to help those people who are forcibly excluded from that main stream, who, far from worrying about how to stay out, can’t figure out how to get in. But these are general tendencies. Traditionalists can also care about the forcibly excluded, and leftists can promote the flourishing of pockets of difference.

Our ideas about what constitutes a good society may be too different for us to make common cause in the arena of electoral politics, but we should at least listen to one another more often — and explore conversations that could tell us just how far a shared commitment to civil liberties can take us."
2013  alanjacobs  freddiedeboer  left  traditionalists  cslewis  georgeorwell  1984  animalfarm  civilliberties  surveillance  exclusion  power  authority  authoritarianism  davidbrooks  bradleymanning  edwardsnowden  policy  government  society  difference  jeffreytoobin  richardcohen  policestate  culture 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Heart Grows Smarter - NYTimes.com
"It’s not that the men who flourished had perfect childhoods. Rather, as Vaillant puts it, “What goes right is more important than what goes wrong.” The positive effect of one loving relative, mentor or friend can overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happen.

In case after case, the magic formula is capacity for intimacy combined with persistence, discipline, order and dependability. The men who could be affectionate about people and organized about things had very enjoyable lives."

"Over the past half-century or so, American culture has become more attuned to the power of relationships. Masculinity has changed, at least a bit.

The so-called Flynn Effect describes the rise in measured I.Q. scores over the decades. Perhaps we could invent something called the Grant Effect, on the improvement of mass emotional intelligence over the decades. This gradual change might be one of the greatest contributors to progress and well-being that we’ve experienced in our lifetimes."
dependability  order  discipline  persistence  whatmatters  leadership  happiness  life  aging  georgevaillant  grantstudy  change  psychology  culture  2012  emotions  success  responsiveclassroom  response  socialemotionallearning  socialemotional  intimacy  friendship  mentorship  mentoring  mentors  emotionalintelligence  tcsnmy  relationships  davidbrooks 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Power of the Particular - NYTimes.com
"It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.

The whole experience makes me want to pull aside politicians and business leaders and maybe everyone else and offer some pious advice: Don’t try to be everyman. Don’t pretend you’re a member of every community you visit. Don’t try to be citizens of some artificial globalized community. Go deeper into your own tradition. Call more upon the geography of your own past. Be distinct and credible. People will come."

[via: http://kottke.org/12/09/some-thoughts-about-xoxo ]
authenticity  honesty  focus  cv  local  place  credibility  distinctiveness  particularity  everyman  identity  niche  psychology  paracosms  particular  davidbrooks  culture 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Reviewing the Political Conventions - NYTimes.com
"The larger issue is that both campaigns have decided that deceptiveness carries no penalty. I know from conversations I’ve had that both campaigns do rigorous fact-checking. When the candidates say something partially or wholly false, they know exactly what they’re doing."
gailcollins  davidbrooks  romneyryan  paulryan  barackobama  mittromney  campaigning  deceptiveness  lies  2012  elections 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Those Fabulous Confabs
"For a certain prosperous tier of the citizenry, the conferences serve as a higher-brow Learning Annex. But most simply, these events are about establishing and reinforcing new hierarchies. In a culture where social rank is ever more fluid, an entrepreneur who overnight goes from sleeping under his desk to IPO-ing into a billionaire needs a way to express his new status, stat. “We don’t have castles and noble titles, so how do you indicate you’re part of the elite?” as Andrew Zolli, PopTech’s executive director, puts it.

Thus the rise of a cohort of speakers and attendees who migrate along the same elite social-intellectual trade routes. Throw in Sundance and SXSW and Burning Man, and you get what Michael Hirschorn has called “the clusterfuckoisie,” tweeting at each other as they shuttle between events."
via:litherland  saulwurman  chrisanderson  class  socialrank  elite  davidbrooks  sundance  lift  sxsw  dolectures  andrewzolli  elitism  status  hierarchy  society  culture  tedx  2012  conferences  poptech  ted 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Sorry, Strivers - Talent Matters - NYTimes.com
"Research has shown that intellectual ability matters for success in many fields — and not just up to a point…

It would be nice if intellectual ability and the capacities that underlie it were important for success only up to a point. In fact, it would be nice if they weren’t important at all, because research shows that those factors are highly stable across an individual’s life span. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

None of this is to deny the power of practice. Nor is it to say that it’s impossible for a person with an average I.Q. to, say, earn a Ph.D. in physics. It’s just unlikely, relatively speaking. Sometimes the story that science tells us isn’t the story we want to hear."
talent  psychology  intelligence  practice  success  2011  research  davidhambrick  elizabethmeinz  davidbrooks  malcolmgladwell  iq 
november 2011 by robertogreco
It’s Not About You - NYTimes.com
"…many ways in which this year’s graduating class has been ill served by their elders…enter a bad job market…hangover from decades of excessive borrowing…inherit a ruinous federal debt.

…their lives have been perversely structured…members of the most supervised generation in US history. Through their childhoods & teenage years, they have been monitored, tutored, coached & honed to an unprecedented degree.

Yet upon graduation they will enter a world that is unprecedentedly wide open and unstructured."

"No one would design a system of extreme supervision to prepare people for a decade of extreme openness. But this is exactly what has emerged in modern America…

…cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But…they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, & can’t be pursued directly…The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself."
education  learning  culture  society  life  generations  davidbrooks  economics  policy  boomers  generationy  geny  babyboomers  parenting  supervision  unstructured  structure  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  jobs  2011  freedom  autonomy  disconnect  fulfillment 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Freedom, Autonomy, and Happiness
"Why haven’t Americans become much happier even though they became much richer? I really think there’s something to the idea that the way we’ve lived and worked as we’ve  become richer hasn’t had much payoff in an increased sense of autonomy. There’s a left-wing version of this argument that stresses a sort of enslavement by false consumer desire, an imagined loss of worker’s rights, and so forth. There’s something to this. But I’m stewing up version of the argument that stresses barriers to self-employment, the debt loads and like-it-or-not rootedness encouraged by the American cult of homeownership, that sort of thing. Consider this a preview."
williwilkinson  davidbrooks  thesocialanimal  happiness  autonomy  left  self-employment  homeownership  workers  enslavement  dept  wealth  rootedness  freedom  commitment  cv  ratrace  racetonowhere  wageslavery 
april 2011 by robertogreco
David Brooks on Freedom and Commitment - Will Wilkinson - Prefrontal Nudity - Forbes
"Chapter 12 of The Social Animal, “Freedom and Commitment,” contains Brooks’ attempt to draw on contemporary research in the psychological and social sciences to adjudicate between what he sees as two fundamentally incompatible forms of life: the life of freedom and the life of commitment. Brooks thinks happiness studies and other bodies of research vindicate the superiority of the life of commitment on empirical grounds. But Brooks’ grasp of the relevant research appears to be precarious and incomplete.

[…]

If Harold feels he needs more community, connection, and interpenetration, then he probably does (the “affective forecasting” literature notwithstanding.) But that doesn’t mean individualism, self-fulfillment, and personal liberation aren’t equally important. In my forthcoming post on freedom, autonomy, and happiness, I’ll show not only that Mark could end up having it damn good, but that freedom and commitment are false alternatives."
happiness  marriage  freedom  commitment  davidbrooks  thesocialanimal  willwilkinson  autonomy  criticism 
april 2011 by robertogreco
David Brooks: The social animal | Video on TED.com [Love this quote (and others) in the comments: "there are plenty of policies that can support the ideas Brooks put out. But they are contrary to his political position."]
"Tapping into the findings of his latest book, NYTimes columnist David Brooks unpacks new insights into human nature from the cognitive sciences -- insights with massive implications for economics and politics as well as our own self-knowledge. In a talk full of humor, he shows how you can't hope to understand humans as separate individuals making choices based on their conscious awareness."
psychology  socialskills  philosophy  davidbrooks  cognitivesciences  relationships  consciousness  consciousawareness  economics  socialtrust  trust  humans  humannature  rationality  schools  cv  learning  education  dehumanization  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  dividedselves  emotion  emotions  reason  incentives  motivation  measurement  testing  parenting  children  tcsnmy  empathy  collaboration  metis  equipoise  sympathy  blending  limerence  flow  transcendence  love  douglashofstadter  mindsight  politics  socialemotionallearning  self-knowledge  self  openminded  socialemotional 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Happiness, Freedom, and Autonomy - Will Wilkinson - Prefrontal Nudity - Forbes
"When offered the chance to get out, to choose our own communities, to choose our own friends, to relate to our families on our own terms, to get out from under inherited obligations of status and obedience, many of us choose to get out. But this is not to eschew commitment. This is not to give up on happiness. Few of us can live happily wholly unencumbered by commitment. To know freedom from the life of the tribe is to demand more from our lovers and our friends because we have chosen them; they are really ours. The flip-side is that we owe more, too. It’s true that commitments of choice are more tenuous than commitments of fate… Some of us are very lucky and would freely affirm, again and again, the bonds we fell into as children, or at birth. But some of us, the weirdos especially, are less lucky and fall mostly into loneliness when young…" [via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/4055442956/when-offered-the-chance-to-get-out-to-choose-our ]
happiness  economics  psychology  policy  willwilkinson  autonomy  freedom  relationships  community  communities  toshare  davidbrooks  cv  control  loneliness  life  well-being  thesocialanimal  self-employment  entrepreneurship  satisfaction  hierarchy  work  self-directedlearning  self-directed 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The New Humanism - NYTimes.com
"Over past few decades, we have tended to define human capital in the narrow way, emphasizing I.Q., degrees, professional skills…all important, obviously, but this research illuminates a range of deeper talents, which span reason & emotion & make a hash of both categories:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds & learn what they have to offer.

Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind & correct for biases & shortcomings.

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world & derive a gist from complex situations.

Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you & thrive in groups.

Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money & success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away & we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others."
psychology  culture  collaboration  brain  sociology  davidbrooks  empathy  sympathy  equipoise  metis  limerence  freud  motivation  meaning  values  testing  measurement  education  learning  people  teachers  teaching  schools  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  money  intrinsicmotivation  emotions  rationality  policy  individualism  reason  enlightenment  human  humans  standardizedtesting  grades  grading  relationships  shrequest1 
march 2011 by robertogreco
What the science of human nature can teach us : The New Yorker
"cognitive revolution…provides different perspective on our lives…emphasizes relative importance of emotion over pure reason, social connections over individual choice, moral intuition over abstract logic, perceptiveness over I.Q…

We’ve spent generation trying to reorganize schools to make them better, but truth is people learn from people they love…

…she communicated distinction btwn mental strength & mental character…stressed importance of collecting conflicting information before making up mind…calibrating certainty level to strength of evidence…enduring uncertainty for long stretches as answer became clear…correcting for biases…

…gifts he was most grateful for had been passed along by teachers & parents inadvertently…official education was mostly forgotten or useless…

There weren’t even words for traits that matter most—having sense of contours of reality, being aware of how things flow, having ability to read situations the way a master seaman reads rhythm of ocean."
psychology  neuroscience  science  brain  culture  toshare  tcsnmy  learning  whatmatters  emotions  emotionalintelligence  eq  davidbrooks  uncertainty  relationships  teaching  education  careers  consciousness  cognitiverevolution  cognition  morality  preceptiveness  cv  observation  connections  connectivism  love  bias  character  certainty  reality  schools  unschooling  deschooling  people  society  flow  experience  racetonowhere  fulfillment  happiness  subconscious  shrequest1 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Amy Chua Is a Wimp - NYTimes.com
"Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self & group — these & other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.

Yet mastering these arduous skills is at the very essence of achievement. Most people work in groups. We do this because groups are much more efficient at solving problems than individuals…

This skill set is not taught formally, but it is imparted through arduous experiences. These are exactly the kinds of difficult experiences Chua shelters her children from by making them rush home to hit the homework table.

Chua would do better to see the classroom as a cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood…"
amychua  davidbrooks  parenting  tcsnmy  groups  socialemotionallearning  schools  social  adolescence  motivation  education  life  socialemotional 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Medieval Multitasking: Did We Ever Focus? | Culture | Religion Dispatches
"Engaged by brilliant illuminations; challenged by reading in Latin, without spacing btwn words, capitalization, or punctuation; & invited into the commentary of past readers of the text, medieval readers of Augustine, Dante, Virgil, or the Bible would surely be able to give today’s digitally-distracted multitaskers a run for our money. The physical form of the bound book brought together all of these various “links” into one “platform” so that the diverse perspectives of a blended contemporary & historical community of thinkers could be more easily accessed."
multitasking  history  technology  hypertext  communication  distraction  medieval  literacy  internet  books  writing  reading  davidbrooks  nicholascarr  focus 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd — The War On Flow
"So, it’s a culture war, and Brooks joins Nick Carr, Andrew Keen, and a long list of others who say that what we are doing on the web is immoral, illegitimate, and immature. They are threatened by the change in values that seems to accompany deep involvement in web culture, a change that diminishes much of what Brooks holds up for our regard in his piece. I don’t mean the specific authors he may have been alluding to — although he names none but Carr — but rather a supposed hierarchical structure of western culture, which is reflected in the literary niche is supports.
books  culture  flow  literacy  reading  web  internet  elitism  hierarchy  davidbrooks  stoweboyd  nicholascarr  andrewkeen  multitasking  online 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - The Medium Is the Medium - NYTimes.com
"It’s not the physical presence of books that produces biggest impact...It’s the change in the way the students see themselves as they build home library. They see themselves as readers, as members of a different group.
books  davidbrooks  culture  reading  tcsnmy  education  internet  community  information  hierarchy  learning  authority  antiauthority  2010 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - Riders on the Storm - NYTimes.com
"This study suggests that Internet users are a bunch of ideological Jack Kerouacs. They’re not burrowing down into comforting nests. They’re cruising far and wide looking for adventure, information, combat and arousal. This does not mean they are not polarized. Looking at a site says nothing about how you process it or the character of attention you bring to it. It could be people spend a lot of time at their home sites and then go off on forays looking for things to hate. But it probably does mean they are not insecure and they are not sheltered.
davidbrooks  serendipity  web  online  internet  politics  polarization  segregation  integration  commons  ideology  exposure  fragmentation  socialmedia  connectivity  offline  homophily  2010  networks  blogs  blogging 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Commuting : The Frontal Cortex
"David Brooks, summarizing the current state of happiness research: "The daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting. According to one study, being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to more than $100,000 a year." In other words, the best way to make yourself happy is to have a short commute and get married. I'm afraid science can't tell us very much about marriage so let's talk about commuting. A few years ago, the Swiss economists Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer announced the discovery of a new human foible, which they called "the commuters paradox". They found that, when people are choosing where to live, they consistently underestimate the pain of a long commute. This leads people to mistakenly believe that the big house in the exurbs will make them happier, even though it might force them to drive an additional hour to work."
commuting  happiness  davidbrooks  housing  urbanplanning  suburbia  marriage  neuroscience  jonahlehrer  behavior  cars  driving  psychology  estimation  planning  urban  urbanism  transportation  traffic  suburbs  lifestyle  living  satisfaction 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - The Sandra Bullock Trade - NYTimes.com
"If relationship btwn money & well-being is complicated, correspondence btwn personal relationships & happiness is not...daily activities most associated w/ happiness are sex, socializing after work & having dinner with others...daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting...Levels of social trust vary enormously, but countries w/ high social trust have happier people, better health, more efficient government, more economic growth, & less fear of crime...most of us...overestimate extent to which more money would improve our lives. Most schools & colleges spend too much time preparing students for careers & not enough preparing them to make social decisions. Most governments release ton of data on econ trends but not enough on trust & other social conditions...modern societies have developed vast institutions oriented around things that are easy to count, not around things that matter most."
well-being  happiness  davidbrooks  society  wealth  schools  tcsnmy  learning  whatmatters  us  relationships  socialtrust  marriage  social  culture  cv 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - The Protocol Society - NYTimes.com
"Economic change is fomenting intellectual change. When the economy was about stuff, economics resembled physics. When it’s about ideas, economics comes to resemble psychology."
davidbrooks  economics  psychology  innovation  culture  society  change  gamechanging  scarcity  philosophy  consilience  networks  protocol  physics  ideas 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Love in the time of Twitter « Snarkmarket
"there’s a rea­son why he called it the “Happy Days” era: the past he’s describ­ing isn’t really the past, but a 70s-era TV ver­sion of the past. Not even the past’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion of itself! For that, you’d have to see On the Water­front...It’s mem­ory as ide­ol­ogy, cre­ated...to sur­rep­ti­tiously win argu­ments about the present, espe­cially about social morés & gen­er­a­tional change. & the Happy Days era — the real one...reflected in the TV show like a fun­house mir­ror — was dri­ven by tech­no­log­i­cal & social change, too!"
change  generations  davidbrooks  tv  television  memory  revolution  technology  society  timcarmody  snarkmarket  teens  youth  facebooks  twitter  socialnetworking 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Ezra Klein - Will the iPhone kill love?
"Columns like Brooks’s irk me because they demean not only my lived expe­ri­ences, but those of every­one I know...Sun­day was my 1-year anniver­sary with my girl­friend. A bit more than a year ago, we first met....short encounter that could eas­ily have slipped by w/­out follow-up. A year & a week ago, she sent me friend request on Face­book, which makes it easy to reach out after chance meet­ings. A year & 5 days ago, we were send­ing ten­ta­tive jokes back&forth. A year & 4 days ago, I was steel­ing myself to step things up to instant mes­sages. A year & 3 days ago, we were both watch­ing "Iron Chef” offal episode & IMing offal puns back&forth...led to our 1st date. A year ago today, I was anx­iously wait­ing to leave office for our 2nd date...Elec­tronic medi­ums may look lim­ited to him, but that is only because he has never seen his life change w/in them. Tex­ting, he says, is nat­u­rally cor­ro­sive to imag­i­na­tion. But the fail­ure of imag­i­na­tion here is on Brooks’s part."

[via: http://snarkmarket.com/2009/4004 ]
twitter  facebook  socialnetworking  davidbrooks  change 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - The Young and the Neuro - NYTimes.com
"baby steps in long conversation...work could give us a clearer picture of...fuzzy words like ‘culture.’...fill hole in understanding of ourselves. Economists, political scientists & policy makers treat humans as ultrarational creatures because they can’t define & systematize emotions...demonstrates that we are awash in social signals & any social science that treats individuals as discrete decision-making creatures is nonsense...even though most of our reactions are fast & automatic, we still have free will & control...consciousness is too slow to see what happens inside...possible to change lenses through which we unconsciously construe world...work will someday give us new categories [to] replace misleading ‘emotion’ & ‘reason.’...take us beyond obsession with IQ...give us firmer understanding of motivation, equilibrium, sensitivity...sciences are interpenetrating social sciences...shines attention on things poets have traditionally cared about: power of human attachments."
technology  neuroscience  society  culture  science  psychology  socialscience  behavior  policy  davidbrooks  attitudes  iq  brain  research  cognitive  emotions  social 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Rethinking the self « Snarkmarket
"What if there’s not one Robin—expressed in lots of inter­est­ing ways, of course—but instead a whole com­mit­tee, always argu­ing over whether to actu­ally write some­thing or just post a snazzy image? As Paul Bloom puts it, by way of Brooks, maybe our many selves “are con­tin­u­ally pop­ping in and out of exis­tence. They have dif­fer­ent desires, and they fight for control—bargaining with, deceiv­ing, and plot­ting against one another.”...The rev­o­lu­tion that was Shakespeare’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion pro­vided a tem­plate that was so seduc­tive, so viral, that it ultimately—after influ­enc­ing and infect­ing lots of other writers—became one of the very foun­da­tions of our com­mon sense about con­scious­ness, iden­tity, will, and every­thing else...That’s totally mag­i­cal, but it’s also totally arbi­trary. So maybe it’s time for another sea change (Shake­speare!) in the way we think about our­selves."
self  neuroscience  robinsloan  snarkmarket  davidbrooks  consciousness  psychology  philosophy  identity  will  character 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - Where the Wild Things Are - NYTimes.com [via: http://snarkmarket.com/2009/3794]
...philosopher’s picture: good life won through direct assault. Heroes use reason to separate virtue from vice...willpower to conquer weakness, fear, selfishness & dark passions lurking inside. Once they achieve virtue they do virtuous things...psychologist’s version: good life is won indirectly. People have only vague intuitions about instincts & impulses...implanted in them by evolution, culture & upbringing..no easy way to command all the wild things jostling inside. But possible to achieve momentary harmony through creative work. Max has all his Wild Things at peace when...immersed in building a fort or...giving another his complete attention. This isn’t the good life through heroic self-analysis but through mundane, self-forgetting effort & through everyday routines. Appiah believes these 2 views of conduct are in conversation, not conflict...seem[s] we’re in one of those periods when words like character fall into dispute & change meaning."
psychology  philosophy  politics  wherethewildthingsare  spikejonze  consciousness  character  neuroscience  davidbrooks 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - A Date With Scarcity - NYTimes.com [via: http://liftlab.com/think/laurent/2008/11/07/politics-is-cool-again/]
"In the next few years, the nation’s wealth will either stagnate or shrink. The fiscal squeeze will grow severe. There will be fiercer struggles over scarce resources, starker divisions along factional lines. The challenge for the next president will be to cushion the pain of the current recession while at the same time trying to build a solid fiscal foundation so the country can thrive at some point in the future. We’re probably entering a period, in other words, in which smart young liberals meet a stone-cold scarcity that they do not seem to recognize or have a plan for. In an age of transition, the children are left to grapple with the burdens of their elders."
babyboomers  boomers  change  generations  excess  scarcity  us  nytimes  society  culture  politics  2008  elections  barackobama  davidbrooks 
november 2008 by robertogreco
The Two Obamas - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com - "On the one hand, Obama did sell out the primary cause of his professional life, all for a tiny political advantage...
"If he’ll sell that out, what won’t he? On the other hand, global affairs ain’t beanbag...He’s the most effectively political creature we’ve seen in decades. Even Bill Clinton wasn’t smart enough to succeed in politics by pretending to renounc
barackobama  elections  politics  2008  us  via:migurski  davidbrooks 
june 2008 by robertogreco
A Defining Moment - New York Times
"Instead of relying on a president who fights for those who feel invisible, Obama, in the climactic passage of his speech, described how change bubbles from the bottom-up"
nytimes  politics  barackobama  change  us  elections  hillaryclinton  2008  davidbrooks 
march 2008 by robertogreco
stevenberlinjohnson.com: Brooks/Cheney
"whole concept of applying Jacobs' urban theories to way we think about web...now much more familiar connection to people, so much so that Brooks can made an offhand reference to it without even walking though the logic. That's pretty cool to see."
janejacobs  stevenjohnson  change  politics  davidbrooks  social  2008  barackobama  influence  audience  voice  writing  books  via:preoccupations 
march 2008 by robertogreco
The Outsourced Brain - New York Times
"Now, you may wonder if in the process of outsourcing my thinking I am losing my individuality. Not so. My preferences are more narrow and individualistic than ever. It’s merely my autonomy that I’m losing."
gps  memory  technology  davidbrooks  online  geography  internet  web  singularity  affection 
october 2007 by robertogreco
New York Times - What's the Matter With College?
"College as America used to understand it is coming to an end" college used to be an escape from small towns, now they are small towns to escape...great insight from student Hamilon Morris (son of Errol)
colleges  universities  change  gamechanging  future  genx  reform  internet  education  society  schools  generationx  peers  organizationkids  davidbrooks  overscheduling  campusculture  culture  history  sixties  60s  errolmorris  money  economics  activism  generations 
october 2007 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read