Are we dying of boredom?

I’ve just discovered

Too Much

I’m hoping to find bytes of wisdom on how we may address what I believe underlies today’s global unrest: widespread inability to participate in Earth’s growing abundance.

Here are some excerpts from one of their articles:


Yellow Canaries and Middle-Aged White Men

Alcohol abuse and the other drivers of America's rising midlife white death rates all seem to reflect the strains that start to multiply whenever people find their societies becoming more unequal. Photo: ShutterstockStartling new data from the National Academy of Sciences suggest that
extreme inequality may be exacting a much steeper price — on our health — than we’ve up to now expected.

By Sam Pizzigati


Americans live longer today than we used to live, sometimes a lot longer. Just over 32,000 centenarians called the United States home in 1980. In 2010, we had more than 53,000 Americans in triple digits…

The wider the economic gaps between us, Wilkinson explains, the more status anxiety increases. The more we judge each other by social status, the more lower status hurts. The deeper this hurt, this pain of feeling devalued, the more reckless our search for relief. Instances of drug and alcohol abuse proliferate. People die before they should.

But why, in the Case-Deaton data, do only poorer white Americans in midlife show declining lifespans? “Thwarted aspirations,” suggests Wilkinson, may be at play here. As whites, these poorer Americans “would have had unrealistic expectations of upward mobility.” Over recent decades, these expectations have collided with the reality of lives spent on an economic treadmill, working ever harder but getting nowhere.

Social mobility, notes Wilkinson, runs lower in more unequal societies. And middle age, he adds, usually marks the time that many of us realize that the success we sought “hasn’t happened and isn’t going to happen.”

Still, as Wilkinson points out from his Yorkshire office, we may be doing Case and Deaton a disservice if we focus our discussion on their work too single-mindedly on the midlife decline in lifespan. The pain that the pair have found appears to be much more than a generational phenomenon.  See more


Liza’s commentary:

This article provides a thought-provoking take on an increasingly important problem. Building on it, I’d like to see a more nuanced discussion of the various kinds of inequality experienced in the countries polled. As used in the quoted article, “inequality” refers specifically to the difference in financially measurable assets one individual controls compared to another. We have other forms of wealth we could add into the analysis: friends, family, access to non-financial services (often “women’s work”), perception of safety from local or foreign violence, value the surrounding community puts on personal creative expression (art, craft, music, dance, etc.). The majority of White, middle-class males in the States have been educated to be bread-winners, not artists (who don’t sell their art) or care-givers (who don’t sell their services). As labor-saving technologies decrease the financial return on their work perhaps they are dying of boredom.

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