Tuesday, 3 April 2007

I've been depressed for 400 years

I was reading a Guardian article talking about how we have become melancholic since medieval times based on a combination of personal depression and reduced social festivities.

"Urbanisation and the rise of a competitive, market-based economy favoured a more anxious and isolated sort of person - potentially both prone to depression and distrustful of communal pleasures."

This struck me as a revelation. It seems to describe the Britain I know since Thatcherism, and resonates with all modern industrial cities which are characterised by harried, fearful, surly people rushing to get to work, then rushing home to sit alone in front of the TV.

Singapore is no worse that other large cities of my acquaintance for street courtesy but I am sure the omnipresent work culture here fits the pattern. I'd risk going further and suggest the Chinese are generally more susceptible to the driving work ethic (to get the car & flat screen TV). Indians & Malays are more likely to be seen smiling and laughing in the street.

Amateur sociology? Yup. Commentary on cultural happiness? Probably.