Our Collective Addiction to Contempt

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Yesterday, I heard a recent episode of the Freakonomics Podcast that I will likely be pondering for a long time. Arthur Brooks, a person with whom I likely disagree on so much (I looked at some of his other book and article titles) has written a book about the state of American culture and politics, naming that we have a serious crisis of contempt. And I definitely agree with him about that.

The podcast episode is entitled, “How Can We Break Our Addiction to Contempt?” and I highly recommend it.

He shares that when we are angry, we care about the other person with whom we are sharing. We care about them, and we want them to understand our pain, stories, experiences, or views.

When we have contempt, however, we have anger plus disgust. We view the other person as someone not worth caring about, and when this goes even further, we might not even view the other person or group of people as fully human.

There is a whole media and social media infrastructure building and fueling our contempt. It even functions in our brain as an addiction. We are in trouble because of this. It helps to name it, I think.

This is a good conversation starter. Feel free to have a listen.

-Renee Roederer

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