Status Anxiety

Status Anxiety

2004, Society  -   65 Comments
Ratings: 7.50/10 from 14 users.

Status AnxietyWhy doesn't money (usually) buy happiness? Alain de Botton breaks new ground for most of us, offering reasons for something our grandparents may well have told us, as children.

It is rare, and pleasing, to see a substantial philosophical argument sustained as well as it is in this documentary. De Botton claims that we are more anxious about our own importance and achievements than our grandparents were. This is status anxiety.

Alain quotes philosophical writings, such as Democracy in America, a report by Alexis de Tocqueville on his visit to the USA in 1831. De Tocqueville noted that American equality, notable in those times, was accompanied by a climate of envy.

We jump to present-day USA, and see what, to de Botton, are some awful examples of The American Way. A Christian preaches get rich. A steelworker tells of his insecure life in an industry being closed down through others' love of money.

Our protagonist points out the advantage of high status: those with high status will enjoy the care and attention of the world. Then joins this advantage with the illusion, or attempt at meritocracy in the USA, mentioning Jefferson's notion of an aristocracy of talent.

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9 years ago

In the 2012 Happy Planet Index, the top five countries are Costa Rica, Vietnam, Jamaica, Belize and Indonesia. New Zealand ranks 24th, the United Kingdom 39th, Canada 58th. Israel, Venezuela, Palestine and Iraq are higher then Australia at, which is in 69th spot, putting it on par with Iran, Serbia and Haiti. The USA comes in just behind Ethiopia at 104 out of 151 countries.

-New Philosopher #3: Are we Happy Yet? 2014

10 years ago

At the very beginning, The Perfect Home Episode 1 part 4, the host speaks about the status of ones home... it is really all about the individual. Some people may find green to be a vulgar and hideous color for a home but for me and my mom (I help my parents to live a nice life & my man likes the calmness of the family homie-ness of sharing a house with older relatives) our house is far prettier to look at as a green color than any other color it had before.... and that house had been in every color imagined. :/ The green goes so well. People who put too much in mind of the appearance of houses in these days are truly shallow folks... seriously... today you ought to be extremely and utter grateful and blessed to have a home at all. You know how many folks are living out in the streets who will kill to have my tiny home with two rooms and tiny bath, kitchen & livingroom? Its why I don't complain over my home... I will complain over my student loans and living expenses (cost to live is ridiculously high), but not my lovely home which I was allowed to decorate it in the way I want it. I could careless what some rich *beep* thinks of it or that is high class/status. >_> I could careless about status. I put more into thoughts of those closest to me not those who I barely know or see everyday. Again, be grateful you have a place at all and forget the rest... Schupperheimer said it best... Peoples' heads are too wretched of a place for true happiness to have a sit in it. Those who rely on the opinions of others, pays them too much honor.

11 years ago

i like the part where the old people enjoy the day... not minding anything at all... just having fun and relaxing with friends. =)

11 years ago

One of the best documentaries on a topic that affects almost everyone in almost every field (from investment banker to basic science researcher) to varying extents!

11 years ago

excellent documentary. i took a lot of notes.

11 years ago

This was so relentlessly well-written and interesting... thank you so much for making it available.

11 years ago

awsome doc

12 years ago

A lot of the people who deny meritocracy in western countries, do so by using extreme examples.

-> Yes, it is true that The top 100 richest people on earth got there by luck.
-> Yes, it is true that the bottom 1% got there due to bad luck.

However, this is often used to excuse a person who's had every advantage in life given to them (good home, good health), but don't make it.

People love to use the extremes to justify their own lot. Meritocracy is not perfect (it doesn't apply to the top 1% and bottom 1%), but it does apply to the other 98%. And yes, for us, the other 98%, we are exactly where we deserve to be.

12 years ago

Best doco I've seen in truly hit a nerve with me. It is the core of why so many of us are unhappy, running around like headless chickens chasing the next big car/ipod/house/pair of shoes/yadayada to feel like we're worth something to somebody instead of looking inside ourselves and asking what we really want in our hearts. I feel so relieved watching this, like a heavy burden was taken off my soul. I know that's all heavy but, wow, amazing. This inspires me to actually take a chill pill and get off the stupid rat race. I'd now rather be a little poor but have a happy life filled with good memories then a mansion and a BMW with a broken soul.

12 years ago

nice movie, ty

12 years ago

I really wish Grover Norquist loses all his money and learns what it's like to be poor in america.
There's a lot of talk of meritocracy here in italy. In principle it sounds like a good idea, but if we have to end up like the americans, maybe it's better to keep a more classist, but more solidal society. The rich may evade taxes, but at least the poor help each others!
De Bottom said people need status symbols to be treated with respect. I usually get it by treating well other people first.
And it is very true that people with low self esteem are usually the most competitive; by bragging about their achievements they are in fact signalling how fragile their mind really is.
very good documentary.

12 years ago

Anyways, the narrator's quite ignorant. Americans are a want more, need more society. And most people behave according to this "society" SIMPLY because it's the only society they know!! DUH. Hey people there's more planet than The U.S. When people LIVE in other societies, they change. God damn it! My father's in the army, so we move a lot. I have lived in most states of the U.S.. Lived in Canada, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Phillipines and Hawaii. And I gotta tell you, there's more to life than shopping. ;)

12 years ago

This pissed me off. I stopped watching after the id*otic so-called motivator said we could succeed by washing his car. That b*stard can go and f*ck monkey mother for looking down on people.

12 years ago

Such a depressing documentary, after spending so much on my university degree in order to try get a good job it's left me wondering if I'm just a victim of status anxiety or if I truly want to learn and have a job that isn't what I would consider 'boring.'

12 years ago

Very interesting doc. Funny, I googled Grover Norquist and discovered some interesting, if not confounding, aspects about him. He has degrees from Harvard, was a co author of the Contract with America (that lovely piece of political gamesmanship from 1994), and is a board member of GOProud (a gay conservative group). Definitely, a ...colorful man.

Yeah, I agree with some others on here. His comment about Europeans taking land from other Europeans as some form of hypocrisy was...strange and feeble logic. I expect better deductive (and inductive) reasoning from someone who attended Harvard.

12 years ago

Oh yeah, "In Europe a lot of property was theft." Because the Americans didn't steal it from the people that were in America before them. Well done.

12 years ago

there is an awsome documentary that fits with this one , Zeitgeist Moving Forward(its on here), it talks about how our society is acctually increasing all this anxiety , but offers a real solution to all this that is well with in our reach. It explores this same issue but looks deeper at its causes and consequences

12 years ago

great doc Vlatko......u da man

12 years ago

"Status Anxiety" There's probably some sort of medication for that.........

Anthony Williams
12 years ago

welcome to the technological dark-age.

12 years ago

A little all over the place but a good doc whichmakes some great points. Not many solutions but I don't need to be fed those anyway.

Jo McKay
12 years ago

wonderful, beautiful, and exceedingly comforting... Thank you Alain De Botton.

Abba Tijjani
12 years ago

Im glad people take the time to explore such "intangible issues" because it teaches us a lot more about ourselves. This is a good documentary by any standard and you would certainly pay attention to it if you want to live a fulfilled life. Hardwork does not equal success and status, and that is just a fact. Otherwise people who worked two jobs or crazy hours would be among the wealthiest. That is just not the case. WHO you know or are makes all the difference.

12 years ago

Also, crass ^_^ big A, little a is an anthem of my time

12 years ago

Lots of interesting points, also ugliest person I've ever crushed on. those eyes!

'scuse me, back to the point...I think the film raised many valid, pertinent points framed with a decent historical and social context and succintly narrated without too much subjective bias and a mildly dissafected but ultimately compassionate tone....

I enjoyed it.

Aldo Solari
12 years ago

"Ideas of equality" WERE NOT nurtured in the USA. Credits where credits are due. THANK YOU.

12 years ago

The answer is simple: Money, is an illusion and illusions cannot fulfill anything other than a belief, never to be realised in actuality.

12 years ago

I don't think Alain de Botton presumes to "teach the Masses" anything. He does usually have very practicle and well thought out opinions on philosophy and modern issues but, he is far from being presumptious. On the contrary, he seems a very approachable chap, someone I would like to share a pint with. It is very unusual to find someone as well versed in philosophy and as well edeucated as Alain that is also humble and ordinary enough to see as a friend.

One of his heros of philosophy, a french philosopher named Michel De Montaigne, was also very approachable and humble. He often remarked how even the finest of ladies, the richest of gentlemen, the most priviledged nobility sometimes farted, picked thier nose, or worse. He dedicated his writings to the fact that the common servants of his manor were just as happy, if not more so, than the most wealthy and priviledged he had ever met. He also wrote about the difference of intelligence and wisdom, and how having one does not neccesarily mean you will possess the other.

I enjoyed this documentary, as well I have all of Alain's work so far. Alain offers a very refreshing insight into how the western model of the capitalist society produces so much worry, violence, disappointment, etc. He also touches on how this society has changed christianity drastically from the European model, and how that is now feeding back into the loop to create even further reaching more distinct changes in the way we think. Facinating, truly facinating!!

12 years ago

I like Alain de Botton's documentaries

12 years ago

"Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level. It's cheaper."
~ Quentin Crisp

Matt Kukowski
12 years ago

Thank you. Teach these masses that worry too much about what other people think about you that they are acting like High School CHILDREN. Remember when you felt like everyone was looking at your zits? Or your hair? Look back and think how silly all that was.

Well, little has changed with age. Unless you look for love and respect in yourself, others will not give it to you. But, I think you need to respect everyone. Problem is... the world has gone MAD. So, I personally am very guarded and I protect my family.

Tee other day I got a bill saying I owed $700 for a bill I had no idea of. I looked up the company on the letter and found it was 100% fraudulent.

Now, this has become standard case in the world. You have to have respect, but not gullible or too open to other people. It is a fine balance.

Unforgivably they do not teach this in school, your church or from your parents. I teach my daughter to love herself first, and love others from there. If she can not respect herself first, how can others feel they should respect her?

We need more docs like this. We all talk about science, economics, scandals, politics and everything else but completely leave our our Humanity.

Also, respect Nature.

12 years ago

Really had me thinking.

Thanks for the upload.

12 years ago

very good doc

12 years ago

in modern America who you know is more important then how hard you work.

phillip wong
12 years ago

This guy is a f***ing idiot. This guy is rich because of family. He does 't need to work at all. Now, he is tell what the rest of non rich people what to think? What the hell.