There is so much more freedom today than there was even 60 years ago. Today's (western) society is far less constrained by peer pressure to conform to expectations and traditions; transport, communication and commerce is cheaper, faster, more plentiful. But this is a double-edged sword - with so much choice, people don't know what route to take as they realise they should fully consider all paths before choosing the right one for them. Quite commonly I believe this can lead to decision paralysis. I know myself and a few others in my social group suffer from this to varying extents leading to skill generalisation, commitment problems, "broad but shallow" hobbies, etc.
Back 60 years ago, there were stronger expectations on society. Women were expected to stay at home and raise a family. Men were expected to go out to work. It may not have been perfect, but it gave people a sense of purpose. Religion is another thing that lends purpose to people's lives.
Disturbingly, the younger generation of women are tending to follow the young men's example of drinking to excess and following their testosterone. I see this as a symptom of a lack of direction, or possibly a symptom of too much choice. Or perhaps they're both the same thing, really.
What's fairly interesting is that I've only been able to arrive at these thoughts as a result of this freedom from expectations and the benefit of hindsight.
And looking at the problems in the financial markets I can see (or is it read into it) facets of the same problems: the world is too complex for even sophisticated businesses to understand.
While if the world were too simple, people would become bored. Presumably there has to be a happy balance somewhere? I think this is possibly a reason why I content myself with focussing on a smaller scale of things that aren't too overly complex, but not too simple either. Something I believe I can grow to understand enough to change it for the better. Perhaps that's the purpose I choose for myself?