The technology story: Social media is driving us all crazy.
The sociology story: We’ve stopped participating in community organizations and are more isolated.
The demography story: America, long a white-dominated nation, is becoming a much more diverse country, a change that has millions of white Americans in a panic.
The economy story: High levels of economic inequality and insecurity have left people afraid, alienated, and pessimistic.
The most important story about why Americans have become sad and alienated and rude [Brooks says] is also the simplest: We inhabit a society in which people are no longer trained in how to treat others with kindness and consideration. Our society has become one in which people feel licensed to give their selfishness free rein. The story I’m going to tell is about morals. In a healthy society, a web of institutions—families, schools, religious groups, community organizations, and workplaces—helps form people into kind and responsible citizens, the sort of people who show up for one another. We live in a society that’s terrible at moral formation (emphasis added).