Writing Out Loud: Metropolis and Mental Life

The United Nations estimates that more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. More than century ago, Georg Simmel reflected on the effects city living had on the minds of urbanites in “The Metropolis and Mental Life.” As you read the essay, answer the following questions.

Theme: Rise of the Avatar


  1. What does Simmel think is the biggest challenge individuals face living in modern society?
  2. Simmel asserts that people depend on differences for their existence. What kinds of differences is he talking about, and how does living in cities contribute to these differences?
  3. According to Simmel, people tend to have a “blasé attitude” toward metropolitan life. Can you think of examples of how living in a city today might lead to a sense of apathy?
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