I have been reading Jen Lancaster’s books since I happened on her book of essays called Bitter is the New Black while shopping at BJ’s many, many years ago. I have always enjoyed her snarky wit and her boldness in the midst of social awkwardness.
Welcome to the United States of Anxiety is her new book of essays which sometimes reads more like a dissertation, but correctly points out the chaos and confusion of the new norms while trying to navigate social media which sometimes (well, most times) consumes our lives. Social media can take time away from your real life, although it feels like real life, it can also impede our daily life and cause anxiousness, even depression.
She rightfully explains how years prior to any type of social media one could make a mistake, dress improperly, have a disagreement with a friend and it would be over so quickly, you would forget whatever happened. Now, with social media, not only can a small incident turn into a major war, it can last for eternity where it can be brought up again and again.
Lancaster’s biting humor and sarcasm are still visible in these new essays, but she also backs up all her information with statistics which, given the age we live in now, seems extremely appropriate.
Her essay on The State of Our Stressed-Out Union, explains how social media has opened up a new world to people who grew up in an era where most things were private, where no one outside of the family had access to secret information and those who did would take it to the grave. Her parents, as most during that time of innocence, allowed their children to never wear seatbelts, never lock the doors, make no calls after 10 o’clock p.m., (way too expensive) or even… we have a prowler? Oh, probably a boy from the high school pranking..no worries! Everyone seemed to be of the same easygoing mindset.
Now, with social media, one can be influenced into what to eat, think, wear, feel or even which “influencer” that’s a thing too now, should influence YOU. Lancaster tells the story of being on Facebook and connecting with an old friend, only to find their beliefs might not exactly be the same and stressing out as to whether to block the person or just never go on Facebook again. Now this is a stress no one ever saw coming back in the 80’s or 90’s!
A powerful essay is how she had to distance herself from her mother, a relationship which was complicated to begin with, and how the power of social media actually became a tool her mother was able to use against her.
Welcome to the United States of Anxiety is a funny, sadly very true story of where we were, how far we have come and where we are trending. Now I need to go check twitter to see if anyone liked the last tweet!
Thank you #NetGalley #LittleA #WelcometotheUnitedStatesof Anxiety #JenLancaster for the advanced copy.