The Null Device
City of sharks
British psychologist Oliver James (the author of Affluenza
, a critique of the effects of materialism and consumerism on happiness) travelled to Australia for research, and found that Sydney was particularly badly affected by soul-deadening hypercompetitive materialism
Adelaide and Melbourne had a "different vibe" and did not strike James as being as materialistic as Sydney. He had not been to Sydney before and expected a "philistine nation" of "jolly, uncomplicated fun-seekers". Instead, he found a city in thrall to American values and a puritan work ethic that robbed life of joy and meaning. Middle-class Sydney, he writes, is "packed with career-obsessed workaholics". When they are not working the longest hours in the developed world, they pursue perfect bodies through joyless fitness regimes, or obsess about property prices. Always, they are looking around anxiously, in the hope that others aren't doing better than them.
"They (Sydneysiders) were like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. They had no idea of the point of their lives, other than to get rich." James noted Bureau of Statistics figures highlighting a rise in depression that coincided with a bullish property market, which caused stress and anxiety -- particularly among young Australians.
You'd think that, being from Britain, he wouldn't be one to talk; after all, if any place is soullessly materialistic and aggressively hypercompetitive
, it would be London, right? Well, not quite, according to James; Britain's class system, you see, insulates it from the excesses of affluenza that grip America and Sydney:
"The British, compared to the US or Aussies, are less easily convinced that money will get you further. The British elite have been around for an awfully long time and there is not the crassness of the Australian rich."
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