Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Documentary: Status Anxiety

Alain de Botton, born in 1969, is a Swiss writer, television presenter, and entrepreneur, resident in the UK. His books and television programmes discuss various contemporary subjects and themes in a philosophical style, emphasising philosophy's relevance to everyday life.

This is a wonderful documentary 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.

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 documentary 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 learnt 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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