National Public Radio’s editorial director of digital media, Dick Meyer, has written a book called Why We Hate Us which apparently is one long screed against the rise of individualism in America (did I mention he works for NPR?)
Anyway, NPR interviews him about his book and this comes out,
“The 1960s was a symbolic turning point,” Meyer said, citing the decade as a time when personal choice became more important than following tradition.
“It became much more important to make all these choices as a witting, conscious consumer of life,” Meyer said of formerly tradition-bound elements like religion, where people live, whether they decide to get married.
“And deeper than that, there was a sense that if you did follow a traditional route,” Meyer said, “you were an existential weakling.”
The realm of personal choice has only expanded since then.
“Now, it means choosing your breast size. It might mean choosing the way your nose looks. Almost every discrete element of our lives now can be looked at as a consumer choice,” Meyer said.
It’s enough to make Meyer nostalgic for the days when a sense of community and belonging, he says, were not so rare as they are now.
“We accepted, naively, a bill of goods about how one forges an identity and happiness in life. And it doesn’t come in a vacuum — it comes in a community with the help of others.”
Oh my god — Americans put their own personal choices above tradition! I see his point. If we don’t put a stop to that, pretty soon we’ll be seeing gay people getting married and black men running for President. After that it’s downhill to a hellish world where people chose religions different from their communities or — don’t tell Dick — choose not to be religious at all. OMG.
NPR has an excerpt of the book up, but frankly rather than Why We Hate Us it looks like the book should have been called Why Dick Meyer Hates You. For example, there’s this nugget,
I don’t like people who go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum wearing t-shirts that say “Eat Me.” True story.
Exactly. People who wear t-shirts saying “Eat Me” but never bother to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum are much better people than their museum-visiting counterparts. Better ignorant than irritating. At least that’s what Dick’s grandma always used to say.
It’s clear Meyer is trying to be amusing with some of this stuff, but it reads more like the ultimate Internet troll finally got a book deal. I hate it when that happens.