One of the biggest problems with modern man is the hyper-inflated ego. Everybody thinks that they’re important and their opinion counts. Nobody can allow their precious little ego to be damaged, so they have to construct illusions around reality that tell them that they are perfect but society and everyone else is keeping them down.
I’d argue as a corollary, since I disagree 0% with the above:
The “ego” in this case is the social ego, or how we project ourselves into social situations. The justification comes from this; society extends to us an inherent “prove to me I should help you,” since there’s no order or context to our roles.
500 years ago, if you were a peasant, you could expect certain things and not others. If you were a monk, a different set. A noble, a different set. A knight, a different set. And so on.
Now, we’re all “equal,” which means we have to justify ourselves. Need something? First, you must prove you are worthy. “I’m a good guy, see, I believe in the equality of everyone, but I’m different for the following reasons: I’m the only guy you know with both reggae and Russian opera on his iPod, I have a pet duck that obeys commands in German, my parents were Nigerian and Danish, and my penis curves slightly to the right as if ironic.”
This is why our society is hopelessly focused on the external: we have given up on proving ourselves and fulfilling roles that contribute to an order, and instead are fighting it out man-to-man for hipness, coolness, ability to pander, and how “interesting” and “unique” and “ironic” we are.