Author Topic: Them: Why We Hate Each Other -- And How to Heal by Senator Ben Sasse  (Read 214 times)

rudged

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The stated goal of this book is to discuss the factors that are increasingly leading to the destruction of community life in the U.S. Early in the book Sasse traces this to two fundamental factors: (1) the rise of social media, which leads us to value virtual relationships more than those of people in our physical proximity, and (2) the evolution of work over the past hundred years, which increasingly leads people to leave the communities they were raised in for temporary rather than permanent employment of the sort that would encourage them to put down roots once they find employment. Together these factors lead to a profound sense of loneliness that Sasse suggests is a major cause for increased substance abuse, high suicide rates and a general malaise as to what the meaning of life is. (He reaches similar conclusions to what Sebastian Junger reaches in his book, Tribe.) Sasse's analysis suggests we can think of people as fitting into one of three categories: (1) the mobile, an elite group of people who have the ability to take advantage of the new economy and as such are highly mobile with very little incentive to settle down; (2) the stuck, an increasing number of people who are unable to take advantage of the opportunities and as such are stuck in the locality they live in and so burdened by financial concerns (e.g. having to work multiple jobs) that even though they remain, they cannot afford to contribute much to their community either financially or in terms of volunteer work; and (3) the rooted, a diminishing group of individuals who have good paying jobs (or are retired), who contribute to their communities, e.g. belong to the local Kiwanis Club.

I have some specific concerns about this book, and in particular his implied equivalency between media outlets on the right and left- I think one side is much more tethered to reality than the other. But after reading it I find myself wondering whether he was aware of two factors that might lead us to be more optimistic about the fate of communities. First, is the rise of telecommuting, which would allow people to remain part of a geographically defined community despite job changes. And second, the advent of the early retirement movement, which likewise allows individuals who are financially independent to put down roots in a particular locality.

Cassie

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Re: Them: Why We Hate Each Other -- And How to Heal by Senator Ben Sasse
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2019, 03:00:19 PM »
Sounds like a interesting book.