The Social Affairs Unit

Print Version • Website Home • Weblog Home

Use the buttons below to change the style and font size of our site.
Screen version     Print version:   

Look At Me: Celebrating the Self in Modern Britain

Peter Whittle, 2008
ISBN 978-1-904863-31-1

It is perfectly natural and healthy for an individual to want to be appreciated by family, friends, community or peers. This desire can spur us on to personal achievement. It acts as the glue that binds society together. But the need to be special is altogether different. In this book, Peter Whittle highlights the demoralisation and division that come with the modern need to claim uniqueness, regardless of talent or deed. By shouting the loudest, by being the most visible, or simply by thumping people the hardest, the attention seekers destroy the privacy of others and contribute to the fragmentation of public life. Meanwhile real achievement and genuine talent are devalued. With no genuine claim to uniqueness, some wannabes simply emote. They self dramatise. They show off. They demand our attention. Others glorify themselves by rejecting other people around them. Paradoxically, despite all the talk in the media of 'community', there has been a repudiation of our collective identity - whether expressed in nationhood, neighbourliness or even personal roots. Such concepts are seen by the single, soaring self as constricting and confining. And in the breakdown of civic behaviour, in the growth of self-centred, often yobbish posturing, 'respect' has come to acquire an altogether new, rather sinister meaning. In "Look at Me", Peter Whittle explores Britain's runaway obsession with the need to be extraordinary, special or visible. He looks at the many ways in which this obsession manifests itself, across different age groups and economic classes. He goes on to consider how we have come to be in this situation. And finally, he looks at what the future holds.
Order this book
Category: Others