Status Anxiety

Status Anxiety (3 part series)
Written by Alain de Botton

“I think that part of the Weathermen phenomena that was right was our understanding of what the position of the United States is in the world. It was this knowledge that we just couldn’t handle, it was too big, we didn’t know what to do. In a way, I still don’t know what to do with this knowledge. I don’t know what needs to be done now and it’s still eating at me just as it did 30 years ago.” -Mark Rudd

This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we’re judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety.

We care about our status for a simple reason: because most people tend to be nice to us according to the amount of status we have (it is no coincidence that the first question we tend to be asked by new acquaintances is ‘ What do you do?’). With the help of philosophers, artists and writers, the book examines the origins of status anxiety (ranging from the consequences of the French Revolution to our secret dismay at the success of our friends), before revealing ingenious ways in which people have learned to overcome their worries in their search for happiness. It aims not only to be entertaining, but wise and helpful as well.

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