Global infotainment wrecking our sense of self-worth

February 18th, 2011 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Oprah Winfrey London, Feb 18 (IANS) Ten years ago, young people aspired to become lawyers and doctors. Now they yearn to achieve the celebrity of Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah Winfrey - and these goals extend to adults as well. This has wreaked havoc with our self-image and undermined our sense of self-worth, says Tel Aviv University (TAU) psychologist Carlo Strenger.

Strenger attributes this fear to global access - comparing ourselves with the most “significant” people around the world, according to a TAU statement.

“A new species is born, homo globalis - global man - and we are defined by our intimate connection to the global infotainment network, which has turned ranking and rating people on scales of wealth and celebrity into an obsession.”

Today, even high achievers constantly fear that they are insignificant when they compare themselves to success stories promulgated by the print and the electronic media.

“This creates highly unstable self-esteem and an unstable society,” he says. Noticing a surge of this fear in his patients, he began an interdisciplinary research project on the phenomenon.

His findings are presented in a new book: “The Fear of Insignificance: Searching for Meaning in the Twenty-first Century” (Palgrave Macmillan).

The book illustrates his decade-long investigation into an unprecedented increase in levels of anxiety and depression. It’s the first study of its kind to address the issue on a large scale.

Strenger attacks new pop-spiritualism that promises instant change and instant relief. The cheap self-help books for instant spirituality that line airport shelves do not provide any long-term solutions, he says.

The fear of insignificance can only be overcome through strong individual and cultural identity over and above measurable achievement, he says.

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