The concept of anomie, popularized by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim in 1897 (a time very like ours), should be in everybody's mental models today. It refers to a condition of uncertainty where societal norms are either non-existent, or if they exist, have become mismatched to reality. Sticking to defaults (status quo bias, anchor bias) becomes increasingly dangerous, and the number of alternative options (most of them bad) for every decision, trivial or profound, starts to proliferate, rapidly increasing the burden of thinking. There are fewer and fewer no-brainer things you can do. This leaves individuals and groups disoriented and normless. Without a sense of values to guide actions, the proliferation of options becomes a source of stress rather than freedom. Instead of navigating by easy "just say no" answers to temptations, you have to assume that any new option could be the best one, and look for a specific deal-killer to eliminate it. Sound familiar?
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