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Globalization and climate change. AI and VR. Donald Trump and the Flat Earthers. The world is changing so fast that we can't get a grip on how we got here, let alone where we're headed. This is your weekly podcast for a world in flux. Join Ben Charland to peel back the headlines and ask, what are the forces, people and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? Just what on Earth is going on?

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Jul 13, 2018

"We live in the age of the individual. Every day, we're bombarded with depictions of the beautiful, successful, slim, socially conscious, and extroverted individual that our culture has decided is the perfect self, and we berate ourselves when we don't measure up." So begins the publisher's description of Will Storr's new book, Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It's Doing to Us. It's a fascinating and timely read about the whole notion and history of the self, and how our cherished individualism seems to be getting way out of control.

Ben goes to Calgary to discuss the book with communications professional Jody MacPherson.

About the Book

We are supposed to be slim, prosperous, happy, extroverted and popular. This is our culture’s image of the perfect self. We see this person everywhere: in advertising, in the press, all over social media. We’re told that to be this person you just have to follow your dreams, that our potential is limitless, that we are the source of our own success.

But this model of the perfect self can be extremely dangerous. People are suffering under the torture of this impossible fantasy. Unprecedented social pressure is leading to increases in depression and suicide. Where does this ideal come from? Why is it so powerful? Is there any way to break its spell?

To answer these questions, Selfie by Will Storr takes us from the shores of Ancient Greece, through the Christian Middle Ages, to the self-esteem evangelists of 1980s California, the rise of narcissism and the selfie generation, and right up to the era of hyper-individualistic neoliberalism in which we live now.

It tells the extraordinary story of the person we all know so intimately – our self.

Learn more about Selfie by Will Storr.