In The Culture of Excess, licensed psychologist J.R. Slosar explores how our modern day culture has turned into one of over indulgence in many different aspects. He discusses how Americans are so overstimulated and have so many additional stressors and things to think about that anxiety levels have unhealthily increased even for young children.
I'll admit I have mixed feelings about this book. First to keep in mind is that I am not typically a non-fiction reader. This has changed a little bit recently in that I have read some more non-fiction and have found myself wanting to more. However, I have to keep in mind and be aware that I prefer fiction overall. I don't think it would be fair for to fully review this book without making that disclaimer. What interested me in this book was the psychology aspect and the social issues that anyone can relate to in some manner.
That being said, another reason I have mixed feelings is because I may not have been ready "emotionally" or "therapeutically" to read some of this. A large focus of this book is on social narcissism. And I can definitely understand that. Just think about facebook and myspace for instance... how much more narcissistic can that get? While I don't consider myself a narcissistic person by any means, I realized that many of the things that I do or think can be interpreted as such, at least by the definitions of this book; this thought made me feel uncomfortable -- especially because I don't think, for the most part, that anything I do or think is wrong. But this could be an example of growing up in an ever increasing society of self-importance.
The Culture of Excess is short at less than 200 pages, but it is chock-full of information and a variety of examples of American over-indulgence. It's not a difficult read, per se, but it's not a light read either as the amount and depth of the information shared is intense. Slosar examines our society from a multitude of angles to explain how our culture has led to a society of individuals who no longer have appropriate self-control or who literally cannot deal with negative feedback or criticism. He uses a variety of case studies from both his experience in the field and other real life examples he's seen or read about to illustrate his point. He discusses sports and how perhaps the genuine competetiveness is a sign of individuals craving something "real" in their lives. He also goes on, however, to analyze the manner in which sports starts can be self-absorbed despite playing for a team sport and can sometimes even be led to cheating. He discusses the digital world and how individuals are creating separate identities (literally but also metaphorically). He discusses the integration of narcissism in the business/entrepreneurial world and the affects this has on business and economy. While there are so many different angles that anyone can relate in some way to this book or find something they find particularly interesting, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to those casual readers of non-fiction. I would recommend this to those who enjoy philosophizing and intellectual conversation about sociological issues.