In every facet of postindustrial society - the way we eat, the way we communicate and entertain, the way we work, the way we court lovers and raise children, educate and govern - technology and affluence now let us reach our goals with a speed and efficiency unimaginable even a generation ago. But the result, Paul Roberts warns, is not all milk, honey, and gold. Companies now reflexively maximize short-term gain at the expense of long-term success. Politicians resort with ever-greater speed to nasty campaign tactics, and can count on their damaging claims to spread before the facts catch up with them. Consumers engage in serial over-indulgence in a self-tailored bubble. And the costs are substantial: financial volatility, health epidemics, environmental exhaustion and political paralysis, to say nothing of a growing, gnawing dissatisfaction.
Over 30 years ago, Christopher Lasch published his landmark book, The Culture of Narcissism, which struck a chord and became a runaway best seller. Lasch’s analysis was largely cultural, but the real story has always been an economic one, and the conditions that led to increasing selfishness and the breakdown of society have only gotten worse. Paul Robert digs down to the economic roots of the problem, shows how it has metastisized to affect every facet of our lives and our ability to navigate the future. In clear, cogent prose that mixes illuminating analysis and vibrant reporting, Roberts not only tells the fascinating story of how the impulse society came to be, but shows how, perhaps, a healthier society may still be possible.
©2014 Paul Roberts (P)2014 Audible Inc.
“In The Impulse Society, Paul Roberts has written a passionate, keenly observant argument that modern life has become rewired around indulgence. This is a book that taps into a sense that we're all adrift -- and finds that technological, economic, and social change has caused us to lose the community that had anchored us. A society that tries to give (and sell) each of us everything we want, Roberts writes, is a society nobody wants. Roberts harkens back to the greatest critics of American individualism - Tocqueville, Dewey, Nisbet, Lasch, Putnam - and finds a call for community as urgent as ever.” (Evan Soltas, economics columnist, Bloomberg View)
“Paul Roberts has written eloquently on very big topics before--but maybe never quite as eloquently, on quite as central a predicament. I guarantee this will jog your thinking, and perhaps put you on a new path." (Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home)
“The Impulse Society will shake up our national conversation the way Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism did four decades ago. Paul Roberts challenges people of all political views to ask: What happens when instant gratification goes from being a bad personal habit to becoming the driving force in our political and economic life? It’s not pretty, and Roberts is calling us back from the brink.” (E.J. Dionne, author of Our Divided Political Heart)
Audible Editor. Book lover. Would-be writer and musician. Fun uncle.
This morning, as I passed person after person with eyes glued to their smartphone, it was impossible not to recall Paul Roberts' The Impulse Society and the dizzying implications of a culture retreating to self-made experiences and a personally customized life; a culture that uses an app to find the nearest coffee spot selling their favorite brand and then another app to track the calories consumed with each sip; a culture that allows algorithms to determine the next song they hear or movie they watch and interact with their "friends" by clicking a thumbs-up button.
As a millennial myself, I was aware of these issues on some subconscious level, but the greatness of Roberts' book is that, using the latest in psychological, political and economic research, he shows that our pursuit for short-term gratification is symptomatic of a larger socioeconomic problem in which myopic corporations look for the fastest returns, political leaders opt for the quick fix instead of tackling issues of true progress, and our self-identities have all but merged with the marketplace. Listening to Edoardo Ballerini's sober narration brings this eye-opener together. But, luckily, Roberts also provides a plan of treatment and a call to action that makes this audiobook a must-listen.
I'm just a dumb troglodyte who like reading. Me feel good after I read book.
Paul Robert's “The Impulse Society” is one of the most interesting and intellectually satisfying non-fiction books I have engaged in the last year. Roberts begins with the premise that modern day American society is built on the need for immediate gratification from our consumer behaviors, social interactions, business practices, and political preferences. These claims are backed up with data and astute cultural/political observations dating back from Reagan and ending with Obama. The author also provides a historical perspective relative to the times when America citizens made personal and business sacrifices for the public good. “The Impulse Society” is completely engaging with great narration. The book will challenge the reader's long established beliefs and hopefully open them up to new perspective.
This is one of the best books I have listened to in a long time. While it is rather heavy on economic theory, the author does a marvelous job at detailing the rise in "cut-throat" corporate culture and how the individual "me" society is leading to the systematic dismantling of our stable middle-class economy.
The author makes some powerful observations and in the abstract is spot on. I could only give the book three stars however due to the book's extremely subjective nature. He takes his many good points and then muddies the water badly with his personal narrative on one political party, global warming, et cetera.
A better book to get one started on this overall topic would be Shop Class as Soulcraft by Michael Crawford. It's non-political and makes more objective points as to how culture has changed under the influence of technology and easy credit.
Generally speaking, I am politically liberal, but this guy makes Bernie Sanders look like a Republican. He blames all of society's ills on business, government and whatever other institution he chooses. You almost have to feel embarrassment for some with this much animus.
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