Why don’t wonderful things make us happy?
When I was a kid, I dreamed of a TV watch I love this idea.
I was going to have, in the future, a watch that would have a little TV screen on it, so I could watch TV from anywhere.
And back in the 80s and 90s, this was a dream of a utopian future where we can all watch TV on our watches.
And here we are.
We can all watch TV on our watches.
Not only just broadcast TV or cable TV as I imagined it back then, like oo, maybe 50, maybe 100 channels.
We can watch Youtube on our watches.
We can watch millions of videos of anything we want.
But why am I not so excited about it?
I mean, partly I grew up and my enthusiasm for TV watches is not as great as it once was at that time.
But somehow, it’s just having this thing come to life, it’s cool for a moment, but it just doesn’t make me happy.
And here’s another one.
Think of how music was back then.
You wanted to get some music, you had to go buy a record, buy a CD, or maybe you get a mixtape, custom-made, to get specific music that you want.
Just getting a song was a difficult thing.
Like you couldn’t just hear a song.
It would play on the radio if you’re lucky, or you could buy it, or you could get it made on a tape.
But none of those are necessarily going to be simple, especially if it’s a very obscure thing.
But now, again, we have Youtube, where we can listen to any song we want instantly.
I sometimes like to imagine the technology we have now, and sort of imagine what it would mean in that earlier time, like what it would be like.
It would be like having a record collection of millions of records, a vast warehouse of LPs, of records, that you could then instantly play whenever you want.
And on the road, too.
You can play it on your watch, too, of course.
I could go on.
We all have our things that particularly stand out for us.
If we think about the technology we have, compare it to what was before, and think, well, what are the things that really are the most surprising and amazing about the way things are now?
But why aren’t we happier?
Why is it not filling us with joy?
Now, of course, when we lose access to Youtube, or to our TV watch or our phone or whatever, then we are experiencing probably great frustration.
We’re very unhappy when we don’t get it.
But it’s like we’ve just readjusted to this new baseline.
The baseline is we have instant access to every major song ever written, every major movie or TV show ever made.
We have instant access to watch it at any time.
That’s our reality right now.
Video call: we can have video calls.
There’s another thing that was science fiction, really.
Although there were some attempts to get video calling going back in those old days, but now we can communicate with anybody by video talk.
But it just doesn’t feel that exciting.
So I’d like to know why.
I mean, one answer is it’s simply a matter of our baseline adjusting, that we can’t be happy about anything, because whenever we get something new, we have this brief moment of “Oh, that’s great”, but then we readjust to it as being our new baseline, so we simply cannot preserve that feeling of being happy about some new thing.
I mean, hey, flush toilets.
Cars and other fast vehicles.
the ability to fly a plane around the world and show up on the other side of the world almost anywhere within 24 hours: it’s absolute magic.
And the list goes on of all the things that are magic about this 21st-century life.
But for some reason, we don’t really care.
It just doesn’t really make a dent in terms of our mindset.
It doesn’t make us feel like we’re living in a magical wonderland.
It just feels normal.
Why is that?
I would be curious to hear your comments.
I think maybe part of it is just we get used to things so quickly, and maybe part of it is just that none of those things are actually very important.
Whether we can access media quickly with a great variety, whether we can travel easily and quickly: none of those things are really that important when it comes to our happiness.
Could that really be true?
I don’t know.
Is that fair to say?
I mean, of course they have great value.
They can mean a lot.
But why is it?
Why are we not happier, despite everything that we have?
I’d love to hear why.
#21stcenturylife #technologyismagic #unimpressed