Filling the Void

Chapter 3


Emotional distress and late capitalism

Unhappy by Jam City addresses some of the same issues as this chapter.

What makes us happy, and can you download it? For decades, numerous thinkers for psychologists to philosophers to economists have been examining the relationship between consumer-driven economies and emotional distress.

Why is "retail therapy" called that? Does pleasure in itself help people when they feel down? What did Karl Marx mean when he wrote in 1944 that "alienation" was a fundamental feature of capitalism? Why does the suicide rate go up during recessions, and why do economists so often say that markets are "sentiment driven"?

This chapter investigates whether there is any link between consumer culture and various forms of emotional distress, and whether this might explain the popularity of social media platforms like Facebook.

Next chapter: You are now 'in a relationship'