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Better Living Through Selective Apathy


Worth reading 😎

Held by the anchoring idea that we are all going to die, this book helps readers navigate and answer the question: why do you care?

Held by the anchoring idea that we are all going to die, Better Living Through Selective Apathy by M.C. Alexander helps readers navigate and answer the question: why do you care? Hey, wait, doesn’t the title of the book include the phrase, “better living”? Isn’t this a “self help” book? Yes and yes. Alexander’s book helps readers discern for themselves what truly matters on this planet. Read this whole book--I ensure you the final sentence is an uplifting one. 

From Alexander’s stance on the subject, apathy doesn’t need to mean “I don’t care”, but revolves around an objective process for how much investment one gives within the contexts of “interest, concern, and enthusiasm'' (ICE). Alexander digs into a wide variety of contemporary hot topics and ways to deal with your ‘crazy relatives’. Themes throughout include letting go, giving up, and positive failure. Included are explanations for how themes relate to the concept of selective apathy. Subjects range from minor work differences, to Facebook posting/rants as inactivism, to stuff and stress-related factors, as well as looking at the world through a biased filter. These discussions are important today, during The United States’ election time, social media warfare, and pandemic-related unrest. Alexander notes how “assigning credibility or weight to the opinions of others (especially uneducated ones) can have a seriously adverse effect on us.” This book is here to iron out the wrinkles of adviser effects. Alexander includes a lot of example situations with people of opposing views. These scenarios are helpful to put Selective Apathy into context. The text is not all theory and conceptual, also includes neurology of psychological reactance. The book even includes a list of six things you can stop caring about right now (I won’t spoil these).

The tone is playful, blunt, and informative. One of my favorite quotes from the text mirrors this;

“When the chemicals our brain releases cause sensations to such an extent that we have difficulty dealing with them, they cause things like depression, phobias, anxiety, hoarding, stress, trauma, obsessive behavior, and abuse of recreational chemicals like drugs, alcohol, and Nutella.” 

While being playful, the lexicon at times can feel jarring and a little abrasive, utilizing words such as “douchebag”. This doesn’t offend me, but does create a bump in the smoothness of my reading. Also imagery like,“then it’s nothing more than a bunch of people urinating together into a baby pool because they’re angry about most tea being manufactured in China and India.” Sometimes, the imagery and language can be quite abrasive. This is a bold book, so be aware.

Overshadowing the notion not to converse about politics or religion, Alexander presents political sides on subjects like “The Easily Manipulated Extreme Right” and does input opinion regarding regulation of guns, “We don’t allow impaired people (physically or mentally) to operate a vehicle, because it could be a potentially fatal danger to others. The same should hold true of a gun.” and discussed contradictory Christians. One scenario mentioned even discusses comparing Alt-Right groups with The States’ most hated opponent: The Taliban, where, “McAvoy makes some rather unnervingly accurate comparisons between the Alt-Right and the Taliban.” I do appreciate that these subjects popping up in the book encourage readers to begin practicing Selective Apathy by reading the book. Don’t get too emotionally invested in this chapter titled, “You Are Useless” (Chpt. 5). Do practice asking why do you care about Alexander’s opinion on religion or politics? He’s got us, there.

Reviewed by

Multiple higher education degrees in literature/creative writing/poetics. Current editor and poetry book reviewer for online literary press, Harbor Review. Enneagram Type Eight (The Challenger), able to promote and sway reader opinion with the proper use of high and low diction.

Why Do You Care?

About the author

M.C. Alexander is a multi-genre author of fiction and self-improvement books. He has written everything from software manuals to novels, and enjoys reading the work of both mainstream and independent authors. He currently resides in the northeastern United States along with his beloved wife. view profile

Published on May 18, 2020

40000 words

Genre: Self-Help & Self-Improvement

Reviewed by