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Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  217 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Americans are as safe, well fed, securely sheltered, long-lived, free, and healthy as any human beings who have ever lived on the planet. But we are down on America. So why do we hate us? According to Dick Meyer, the following items on this (much abbreviated) list are some of the contributors to our deep disenchantment with our own culture:

Cell-phone talkers broadcasting t
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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What would happen if you let Andy Rooney off his meds?

Grumble today and their blogging and the road rage and the short attention spans and the no religion and the sex and the drugs and who turned off Matlock blahdeblahzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

There is a book that needs to be written about the modern malaise and why we're so prosperous and yet so miserable. This is not that book. This book is not even six degrees of separation from that book. This is a jumbled pile of Post-It Notes about
As I started reading this book I thought, wow! yeah, that's why I get so upset with Americans! Then I kept reading and felt guilty and upset with myself because I too have a lot of the annoying American habbits. Then about half way through the book I got really bored. So bored that every time I picked up the book and started reading I'd pass right out and have a good long nap. (Man, those were some good naps) I didn't finish this book before it was due back to the library. I couldn't renew it ei ...more
If you regularly respond to newsman and pundits that you hear on the telly, hurling epitaphs and wondering if everyone has gone quite mad -this is the book for you! A really well-written book that makes a lot of sense in this senseless world. May not make things any better, but it was refreshing to read something that was fresh, honest and made some sense for a change.
Rich Brown
6 stars. 7, 8, 9. Excellent doubleplus good.

A cousin to Derb's We Are Doomed, less pessimistic but just as sobering about the modern world. Explains why "Real Simple" magazine isn't, why Bowling Alone is a real problem, and why David Byrne was prescient when he asked, "My god! What have I done?"

I imagine the book's critics, if any, point out that it's simply another "Life is the journey, not the destination" book, but even if that's true, it's a pretty smart one.

UPDATE: Well, I've read a bunch o
This was an excellent book. Dick Meyer has tapped into a strong undercurrent of discontent within American society that most of us are not aware of but feel the effects of all the time. Americans are more interested in living their lives vicariously through reality-based TV shows and of buying bigger and bigger houses and bigger and bigger cars but they don't understand the angst which drives them to behave this way. Our communities are becoming less and less cohesive because we fail to make rea ...more
Aug 28, 2008 Brian rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: NPR
The thesis of this book is that American culture is in the midst of a crisis brought on by narcissism, a crisis marked by belligerence, phoniness, and isolation. Why else would people yell into their cell phones in public places, or bellow obscenities at the ref while seated next to a kid at a football game? For this cultural crisis, author Dick Meyer blames the ethos of the sixties gone too far -- social liberation that has freed us too absolutely from the bonds of community and good manners. M ...more
Anthony Faber
The author points out, with copious examples, that most Americans don't approve of American institutions and culture. His thesis is that we suffer from inauthenticity. His suggestions in the last chapter are a pretty good start to living a more authentic life, and I liked his distinction between pluralism, which comes from knowing that you don't have the answers, but have to make choices based on what you do know, and relativism, which all too often is interpreted as saying that nothing is wrong ...more
to be perfectly honest, I didn't finish this book ... I started reading it the day after attending the NLDS game where the Dodgers advanced to the NLCS and I could clearly see idiots outlined in Mr. Meyer's book by recalling my experience in the cheap seats the previous night. but after a few days I got annoyed at reading about how everyone in American sucks or thinks something else sucks so I stopped.

how I understood Mr/ Meyer's "solution" to America's problem, is to resepect one another and g
Took me ages to read this as I would get through maybe a few pages before I would have to stop and think about what I had just read. Some of the ideas and the implications of what I had just read would take me the rest of the night to thoroughly work out in my head and apply to personal experience. A lot of the book reads like common sense but at the same time it's stuff that is a helpful reminder. It's also nice to have the author articulate nagging things that are on the tip of my tongue but t ...more
This started out well. It was interesting and engaging. The author made a lot of salient points. And then, well, I just completely lost interest. It struck me as an old man's rant that came down to the simple point, "Americans hate themselves, because they hate modern life." Great, thanks for the newsflash.
Aug 13, 2008 Shannon marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I saw an interview with the author, but since it was on The Colbert Report, and Colbert just interrupts.. I don't really know what it's about. But I'm intruiged. I just hope it's not as snobby as Cult of the Amatuer.
The concluding chapter lifted this book out of one-star territory. Which makes me think that it should have been the beginning of the book, where Meyer's argument should have started from, and not a (very loose) tie up of the mess that came before.

Despite his stated attempt to avoid doing so, most of Meyer's arguments sound like a grumpy old man nostalgically pining for a golden age and yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. Not only that, his points are jumbled and poorly connected, the few g
Phillip Rhoades
"Why We Hate Us" is a non-partisan diatribe about America's disgust with itself. Meyer's blames our rising "discontent" of our fellow countryman and culture primarily on the phoniness and lack of manners that he believes originated in the social movements of the sixties. While those movements provided many changes fundamental to our current decency, such as equal and civil rights for all citizens, it also wreaked havoc on some of the social customs that bound us within a coherent national cultur ...more
Lots of detail on things about modern life that irritate the author (phonies, marketing, politicians, narcissistic people who do cell yell in public.......) and some apparently heartfelt discussion of his preferred life of "authenticity".

Hard to put my finger on what got old about it for me before the end, but two possibilities:

(a) he seems very bright and admires some of the same writers I do (Robert Pirsig, Gregg Easterbrook, Alasdair MacIntyre......), so I think I found it particularly disap
Aug 08, 2008 Sarah marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Each of us has had this type of “what has happened to this country” conversation – and Meyer’s does a good job at putting it all together and with laying out suggestions to get us back on track. The challenge - just like any other road to recovery you gotta really really want to change before you’re able to take that first step. "Dick Meyer has done the impossible — he diagnoses the self-loathing, moral confusion and ennui that infect supersized America without hectoring us and badgering us, and ...more
Like others, I thought the premise of the book was interesting and was looking forward to reading it. However, like others, I couldn't finish it. I usually give books until page 100 to make a decision on - this one didn't even make it to page 50 before I was flipping through the book wondering if the whole thing was going to be the same as what I just read.

Unfortunately, rather than make a statement and then expound on it further with studies, interviews, etc., Dick Meyer just makes a statement
Probably the best book I read in 2013. If you feel a visceral disgust for the U.S. and wonder what went wrong with that once great nation, look no farther. This book is a most incisive expose of the things plunging the U.S. into its present dark depression: the snark, the cancerous media, the unrelenting culture of bullshit, the venality. Despite perhaps sounding simple, the book's thesis cuts pretty deep and is well-argued and impartial in delivery. An excellent conversation point for those of ...more
Wow, some people really hate this book. Makes me wonder how many of them read it to the end.

No, the author is not just an old man ranting about "kids these days." As one of those "kids," I found his views very insightful. And he does have a solution to help fix some of these problems. I just don't think his solution will help.

After spending most of the book agreeing with his assessment of the problem, I couldn't agree with his solution. Apparently, we need values and value judgements, but as t
The book was OK. A lot of the things he said I completely agreed with. I too get tired of hearing other people's cell phone conversations on a bus. Sometimes I felt like he was too hard on people and would repeat himself from time to time. I really enjoyed his final chapter of things people could do. Maybe he could have made it into two chapters and added more in that?
Joseph Gowen
I saw this author on The Colbert Report and thought his premise for the book was intriguing: everyone in American society hates some aspect of our culture, whether it is the lack of shame, the loss of civility and personal communication, or the increasing debauchery in our media, but no one will take ownership of American culture. In a sense, we have all become counter-culturists. But as I read the book, I got tired of the complaining, negative tone. I'm sure at some point he presents his soluti ...more
Heidi Thorsen
I was hoping for something a little more prescriptive, but the author didn't recommend doing anything to fix the objectionable parts of our culture that I haven't already been doing for ten years now. However, most people don't take control of what images they consume, and could probably use the wake-up call this book provides so they will do something about it other than complain. Don't bother reading the book if you don't hate the rude and boorish behavior that permeates public life, since you ...more
Abby Liao
Why We Hate Us brought my life into perspective. Usually with these kinds of epiphany, I find myself trying to minimize these traits. However, I feel I am unable to make myself more authentic or stop from starting an argument when opportunity arises. Meyer offers a remedy to make us belittle our hatefulness. To sum it up in one sentence, he says “strive to make thoughtful choices using a sound moral temperament.” I guess acknowledging my hatefulness is a start.

Paradox of My Charact
Right now, Americans suffer from loathing of both ourselves and our culture. Dick Meyer, formerly with CBS News and now with NPR, analyzes this esteem issue. He reaches some conclusions that, while not exactly shocking or groundbreaking, are interesting in the way Meyer puts various observations - a plethora of choice, technological change, the "me generation" problems of the 1960's and '70's, the distrust of government, politics and corporations - together. Since he is a journalist, Meyer is ve ...more
I admit it, I timed out on this book. While the author did have some provocative thoughts here and there, the cynicism and negativity that he was complaining about was so pervasive that the book became unbearable. Talk about literary irony... I'm starting to understand why the one reviewer (?) compared Meyer to Andy Rooney off his meds--I couldn't even make it to the supposed "solution" to remedy why we hate us at the end. Nothing was safe from his acerbic tongue and I was left thinking it was t ...more
I was hoping for something a bit more academic, instead this was an extended oped. I think his best insights was the content that is from his professional world. Other sections, where he tried to connect ideas felt tenuous and not fleshed out enough. I felt some of the content didn't move the reader forward and just re-illustrated points already made. I do agree with some of his points, I loath "omnimarketing" and "land of the fake." That said, I would have a beer with him.
Fascinating. Some excellent points about being a responsible citizen; the best parts of this reminded me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which Meyer quotes not infrequently), with its focus on quality and depth over breadth. It runs out of steam at a few points and the final chapter feels like a jumbled mess of advice in comparison, but it's hard to argue with some of his observations about the absurdities of modern American life.
I found this to be an interesting read and a refreshing critique of American society that for once did not get bogged down in defending a political view (i.e. explaining why "everyone else" is wrong) but did not dance around tough issues, either.

I would recommend checking it out.

(Full disclosure--I did not finish this book because it was due back at the library and was on hold. However, I would like to in the future.)
This is a great book. Meyer does a wonderful job of bringing together some of the best social commentary of the last decade to explore the question of why Americans complain so much about each other and themselves. Meyer offers recommendations toward community building and respectful living that I think are practical and helpful. Read this one. You'll like it.
Feb 03, 2009 Chantelle rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: patient readers, lovers of politics
OK don't get me wrong on this one, I loved the idea of it-- a book about how we don't trust our government and why and how we can make it better but I just couldn't get through it. I'm not used to book without plots and I got bored very easily with this book. Furthermore, I cannot read about politics as hard as I try.
Interesting book about why we hate us (our culture). His thought---our increased balkanization resulting from the turmoil of the 60s and the increased diversity of the US coupled with a lot of the alienation, and plain rudeness, that all our technology has allowed to flourish. Thought-provoking.
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“Statistically, if you're reading this sentence, you're an oddball. The average American spends three minutes a day reading a book. At this moment, you and I are engaged in an essentially antiquated interaction. Welcome, fellow Neanderthal!” 16 likes
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