What’s up with New York City folks now that they’re all broke, or at least poor?
New York Magazine endeavoured to find out what happens now that the money is all gone, and we’re just left with time for soul searching.
Surprisingly, the recession is turning us into better people.
It turns out that things like museum attendance and volunteership are up. More people are going to houses of worship or enrolling in theological school. The 92ndStY is even selling more tickets to its lectures of big thinkers. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is seeing more attendees to its indie movie screenings Oh, and we’re also getting skinnier, cause we eat out less.
Wait a second… Getting skinnier, finding god… this sounds a lot like how people behave when they’re depressed. Even going to museums, listlessly wandering the halls, looking for meaning in oil paintings fits the definition of depressed.
Some folks who had nothing but disdain for society during the boom times are happy.
Barry Schwartz, a well-known Swarthmore professor, likes what he sees. He made a name for himself saying we’d all be much more happy if some enlightened higher authority (in government) limited our abundance in the name of security. For example, he thought that aisles and aisles of toothpaste made us depressed and that if we only had to choose between added fluoride, regular or baking soda we’d be much happier.
And now the lowly professor is getting his revenge on everyone who (in his mind) looked down on his profession:
I’ll admit that there’s a part of me—a part that really ought to be cloaked in grey wool and a Pilgrim’s bonnet—that breathes a sigh of relief when I hear this talk. While I admire gamblers, the culture of risk of the nineties and aughts still looked a bit like a culture of shortcuts to me, even though it gave us Google as well as mortgage-backed securities. Risk-takers might keep the world hurtling forward. But secretly, I prefer the company of grinds. “I believe that security is more important to happiness than wealth,” says Barry Schwartz, a psychologist at Swarthmore. The problem, he says, is that during a time of high-risk, high-reward prosperity, the pursuit of security can seem dull. “Who cares about security?” he asks, channeling the voice of … well, lots of people during the boom. “Accountants care about security, and who wants to be an accountant? That’s what the low-fliers aspire to.” As a professor, Schwartz notes that he himself was once viewed as a man who’d made a low-flying choice. Job security, steady industry, autonomy—those were his values, not money. But now, in this recession, his profession is suddenly esteemed. “The thing is, it’s a false choice,” he says. “There’s plenty of room for joy in a low-flying life.”
Remember that last line, folks: “There’s plenty of room for joy in a low-flying life” (Like being a superstar liberal arts professor on an idyllic Northeastern campus).