More calories, distractions, sex, and intoxicants are more readily and privately available than at any time in memory. “The weapons of mass consumption—McDonald’s, credit cards, the Internet—are everywhere.” Pornography and gambling are now instantly and anonymously accessible to anyone on the Internet. While temptations—overeating, overspending, procrastination, wayward sex--have multiplied, many of the longstanding social constraints on behavior have eroded. Tradition, ideology, and religion have lost their grip on many of us, while commonly accepted standards of attire, speech, and comportment in the public sphere have largely dissolved. Financial constraints were swept away by surging affluence and the remarkable openhandedness of lenders. The financial crisis of 2008 was the best example yet of the self-control challenge posed by modern life. For affluent societies, the struggle for self-mastery is the preeminent challenge of our times.
|(SOCIETY * SELF-CONTROL IN AGE OF EXCESS)