Today we are judged by our quota of happiness. We are meant to be in a perpetual state of happiness. Melancholy is perceived as a negative and so people seek happiness. But it is a happiness of illusion. It is ironically in this pursuit of an eternal happiness that we are now a society filled with a hidden unhappiness that festers in the need to stay hidden. Here #itchysilk writer Lorna May ponders our need to be perceived as eternally happy and looks at the fall out from such a pursuit.
Saturday night: Joe shows up at a gathering wearing an over-expensive suit manufactured by under-payed Chinese workers; exhibiting knowledge in the latest trends in music, TV and movies. He makes politically correct jokes and brings a suitable wine for dinner.
Back at work on Monday: Joe participates in the weekly “Who had the best weekend?” competition around the coffee machine. He pretends to work his ass off as an 18th century African slave while he secures a Tinder date for Friday night.
He keeps saving money for lavish holidays (to be featured in his Facebook feed), his wedding (if he’s lucky enough to have someone that finds his company tolerable without alcohol), a car, a house, a dog, a German housekeeper – anything they told him, anything he needs in order to cover up the empty shameful fuck that he actually is.
Joe lives by a few simple principles: never, ever tell anyone that your life doesn’t make any sense. Never, ever tell anyone that all you’ve been doing, you did it out of fear. Never, ever tell anyone that you’re fucking your German housekeeper. And most importantly, if anybody asks you if you’re happy – don’t reply by saying you cross the street without looking.
French writer and philosopher Pascal Bruckner, says we in the modern age are, in a sense, condemned to be happy.
Don’t worry Joe! It’s your parent’s fault. Or you can always blame it on the USA.
Nevertheless, Joe will have a lovely funeral. A comforting potato casserole will be served, and his hypocritical friends will praise the person he pretended to be for all these years, while they’ll try to fuck his German housekeeper.
French writer and philosopher Pascal Bruckner, says we in the modern age are, in a sense, condemned to be happy. “We now find ourselves guilty of not being well, a failing for which we must answer to everyone and to our own consciences. […] Who would dare admit that he is sometimes miserable? This is the strange contradiction of the happiness doctrine when it becomes militant and takes the power of ancient taboos – though in the opposite direction. To enjoy was once forbidden; from now on, it’s obligatory.”
In the past, happiness was measured in such terms: a longer vision of life – marked by many hard days of work in order to maintain a bigger house than your neighbor, a not so big wife and Coca-Cola addicted progeny. Nowadays, people are also preoccupied with shorter-term, and often self-centered fascinations. The good life has lost its connection with “doing good” and become associated with “feeling good”. Fast-food happiness over home-made happiness? Let me break it to you. It’s just a matter of CONSUMERISM. And once again, like every single new ideology, philosophy, religion or movement, the idea of happiness is dictated by BANKS.
Why couldn’t the purpose of life be the creation of art or music, even if it doesn’t make you “happy” exactly, but rather is something you have to express? Further, there is one emotion we are mainly predisposed to by evolution. This emotion isn’t happiness, but fear. We can conclude that the biological purpose of life is the continuation of life.
Joe knows that very well. He doesn’t need to read some stupid article in an alternative magazine, to know the actual state of the world. Joe prefers to follow the crowd. His teachers never encouraged him to get emotional, as his emotions often upset other people, and threaten to open up fear, sadness, anxiety – things he keeps under control most of the time. That’s why, sometimes, he erupts like a volcano and he does something very, very, very stupid. Good thing he has a brilliant lawyer.
From time to time, the company he works for, organizes parties. The aim of these parties-to create a family-like bond between colleagues, and hopefully, get them busted enough – so that they forget they’re being under-payed, over-used, and that they’re contributing to evil multinationals, responsible for the destruction of the environment.
Everyone is bored as fuck. But nevertheless, say “CHEEEESE”! Here’s another happy snap of a good time spent together.
Occasionally, Joe gets sad. Nobody matches him on Tinder, his boss calls him Peter and he soon realizes that he has more bald patches than testosterone. He has heard on TV that actors use negative emotions creatively in order to bring depth to their characters. But Joe is no actor! What a silly thing…
The next day he’s at the psychiatrist office. Doctor says that his mental state is abnormal and could be harmful to people around him. He prescribes him an anti-depressant. Unaware of the psychiatrist’s implications in the capitalist happiness doctrine, Joe is back to work smiling like an idiot.
Happiness today. Or quiet depression?
Joe and his mates; a number of people desperately scrabbling around for fulfillment, because they have all, to some degree, achieved the fulfillment of their desires, and found it hollow. Since they don’t realize this fact themselves (most people don’t), they look for that fulfillment they feel entitled to by using other people.
Moral of the story: the surest way of destroying happiness is to seek it.
Featured image courtesy of Women Who Live On Rocks