FOR FREE PEOPLE

FOR FREE PEOPLE

America Needs a Self-Help Book. Tim Urban's Got One.

A few years ago, writer and cartoonist Tim Urban started becoming troubled by what he saw going on in the world around him. He noticed that while technology was progressing in unbelievable…

A few years ago, writer and cartoonist Tim Urban started becoming troubled by what he saw going on in the world around him. He noticed that while technology was progressing in unbelievable ways—people were going to space on private rocket ships and computers were the size of Starbucks coffee cups—it seemed like people were unhappier than ever before. We were petty. We were turning against each other. We were tribal. And he noticed that the very things that had allowed for unbelievable technological progress—things like democracy, liberalism, and humanism—were under siege.

Why was everything such a mess? When did things get so tribal? And why do humans do this stuff to each other? Urban’s new book, What's Our Problem? A Self-Help Book for Societies, is an answer to those questions and more. Like his other work on his blog, Wait But Why, Urban uses comically simple drawings, stick figures, and charts, to make the most complex and profound questions that humans face tangible and affecting. In this book, Urban looks back at hundreds of thousands of years of history and explains how we are now living through more change, more rapidly, than at any other time—the stakes of that are almost too high to comprehend—but what he argues is that the danger we face in the end is not global warming. It’s not an asteroid racing toward Earth. It’s not an impending alien invasion. It’s ourselves.

On today’s episode, Tim Urban explains how we got ourselves into this mess, and how we can also get ourselves out of it.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

our Comments

Use common sense here: disagree, debate, but don't be a .

the fp logo
comment bg

Welcome to The FP Community!

Our comments are an editorial product for our readers to have smart, thoughtful conversations and debates — the sort we need more of in America today. The sort of debate we love.   

We have standards in our comments section just as we do in our journalism. If you’re being a jerk, we might delete that one. And if you’re being a jerk for a long time, we might remove you from the comments section. 

Common Sense was our original name, so please use some when posting. Here are some guidelines:

  • We have a simple rule for all Free Press staff: act online the way you act in real life. We think that’s a good rule for everyone.
  • We drop an occasional F-bomb ourselves, but try to keep your profanities in check. We’re proud to have Free Press readers of every age, and we want to model good behavior for them. (Hello to Intern Julia!)
  • Speaking of obscenities, don’t hurl them at each other. Harassment, threats, and derogatory comments that derail productive conversation are a hard no.
  • Criticizing and wrestling with what you read here is great. Our rule of thumb is that smart people debate ideas, dumb people debate identity. So keep it classy. 
  • Don’t spam, solicit, or advertise here. Submit your recommendations to tips@thefp.com if you really think our audience needs to hear about it.
Close Guidelines

Latest