Karen's Reviews > The Culture of Excess: How America Lost Self-Control and Why We Need to Redefine Success

The Culture of Excess by J.R. Slosar
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's review
Jan 15, 2010

it was amazing
Read in January, 2010 — I own a copy

When I first thought of reviewing THE CULTURE OF EXCESS, my first thought was am I the right person for this book? It only took me a few minutes and pages to realize that I would be fine for this book because I found the book was so much more than what I had expected. Dr. J. R. Slosar for me, most importantly, wrote this book in a way that made it easy to follow and understand. His goal seemed, in some ways, not far off from what I had been trying to do in a classroom as a teacher for the last few years prior to my retirement, and that was to get those young people to understand that their self-indulgence was very harmful to them as well as society as a whole.

With our country in a financial crisis, we see the self-centered life style that has taken over most of our lives to be the cause of most our problems. As Slosar refers to the "Me" generation needing to work toward a "We" generation, he explains how this is at the root of our problems. From the economy being hit so hard to the lifestyles we live, this book addresses how this happened and what needs to be done to change this dangerous path we are on.

Dr. Slosar states, "The changes in development of today's youth are profound as the interaction of economic and social trends have dramatically affected self-control and how we define success." He goes on to talk about how the ideas in this book can stop and change what it is happening and how all of us can learn to make better choices and have more positive results.

I hadn't thought about this excess causing some of the problems discussed in the book. I could see the financial end of it where we as a society have come to want what we want and go about getting it with no regard to cost to ourselves or those around us. This translates to more than just possessions, although they are a huge part. It also has to do with the deadly rise in obesity in our country and when I sat back and thought about it, well, of course that makes sense! I thought about what he was saying about how that also has to do with other social and health issues including drugs, increase in unnecessary cosmetic surgery, and so many other mental health issues. As a teacher, I watched as year after year, students' home and psychological problems got worse and I wondered what was going on to make these children have such problems. The ME society! Think about it! It makes all the sense in the world.

Dr. Slosar understands what is creating this culture of excess and he uses so many excellent examples in real-life situations but also does it with wit and clarity thus making the reader understand and relate to what he is saying. He goes on to include descriptions as well as history that helps the reader to see the reason our society is in the mess we are in. The organization of the book into chapters that deal with first the "Cultural Narcissism" and go on from that explanation into chapters of examples that explain why things are they way they are is very easy to follow. The problems that arise from use of technology in such unhealthy ways are explained in a chapter Slosar titled "Digital Coping: Loss, Reality, and Self-Deception". The fact that he recognized the problems but rather than just write about what they are and how they happened, he also includes how they can be dealt with to give every one who reads the book a glimmer of hope that we can reverse this. His main targets for all these problems come from capitalism being out of control (no kidding!...but we do hate to admit it) to a "consumerism overload" to the forces of technology and media being main causes. The problems of taking risks and being so out of control as we continue to put so much into material things has not led us to contentment and good health. Therefore, he advocates, we must rethink what success really means and how we can get to that place. How we must allow government to be a solution to our problems and allow them to do their job properly especially in that deregulation has certainly not helped. Our health MUST get better and there is so much in this EXCESS that has made us so unhealthy in more than just obesity but also mental disorders. And finally parents MUST take more responsibility in raising their children and set boundaries for their behavior. Children honestly will flourish much better when they have order in their life and set guidelines and rules to go by.

The case studies and examples cited by Dr. Slosar are just more proof of what he has written about when it comes to peer pressure from children all the way up to adults. The pressure to have the "right labels" and "act the right way" lead to more mental problems and financial disasters than ever seen before. It is almost common sense that this has happened when you read this book and stop and look back at what may have happened to you personally and how it effects you and those around you. THE CULTURE OF EXCESS-How America Lost Self-Control and Why We Need to Redefine Success is a thought provoking must-read for those who want a better life and society for themselves and their children and want to be part of a "We" Society at last!
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message 1: by Teri (new)

Teri I have read about half the book so far, and agree with what you have to say above. I too am a teacher, and this book made me thing over and over again about the impatience of my students (and their parents) to see immediate results -- and when they don't get immediate gratification, they often just give up. This book ties in well with Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell -- he points out that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. It also ties in well with Barbara Ehrenreich's new book about the Bright Side. I hope Culture of Excess will become well-read around the country, and that we can start to address this problem.

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