Existential angst brought on by an overabundance of options.
My first job after college was at a book store. I worked at a Borders (RIP) as one of those drowsy book snots who stood behind the center kiosk and directed you to the authors you just mispronounced.
This was in a reasonably wealthy suburb of south jersey – developments, soccer fields, landscaping trucks always parked against the curb. There was money and safety and all the dreary trappings of ideal suburban life.
One day, while rooting around in my manager’s office (I would snoop when bored), I came across some sales figures.
The most popular section in the store? In that nice, air-conditioned store peopled with pretty moms whose shiny bracelets rattled as they browsed, and powerdads who’d pop by to flirt with the baristas before heading to their next meeting?
By a country mile: self help.
So much wealth and opportunity… and nobody’s happy.
Blew my mind.
Makes sense, of course. Western Civilization has reached endgame. And now it’s run out of things to do. I mean, it could commit itself to the principles it espouses, and work toward a just and free society… it could actively try to end poverty, racism, misogyny and hate… commit itself to solving the immense climate crisis that’s going to bake us right off the goddamn planet. We could tinker and invent our way out of oblivion. But instead, I think we’re going to just eat and fuck and play until we die.
Prove me wrong, Humanity. Prove me wrong.