David Brooks and the five lies culture tells us

Massimo Pigliucci in Figs in Winter:

Readers who have followed several incarnations of my blogs (like this one, and this one, and this one) will have easily figured out that, politically speaking, I lean left, though with a number of qualifications and caveats. But I make a point of reading conservative authors and columnists, for a couple of reasons: first, to keep up with what they say and how they think (so to sharpen my own opinions and arguments), and second because they too, at least some of the times, have something interesting or constructive to say.

A recent example is David Brooks, a regular New York Times columnist, who is defined by Wikipedia as a Canadian-born American conservative political and cultural commentator who writes for The New York Times. On April 15, he has published a column for said newspaper entitled “Five lies our culture tells us.” I’d like to examine each of the lies in turn, in order to stimulate a discussion that may help us all see why such lies contribute to (or even, as Brooks argues, are at the root of) our political problems.

Lie n. 1: Career success is fulfilling. Brooks suggests that this lie is most evident at the point of college admissions, which put a lot of pressure on students (and their families) by instilling status anxiety. I think he is far too modest in his claim. Status anxiety is built into the very fabric of American society from the moment people are born. I live in Manhattan, and I know parents who fiercely compete (and pay outrageous amounts of money, and sometimes cheat) so that their five-year olds get into the best elementary schools. And it only gets worse from there.

More here.