No time for emotions?

No time for emotions?
Fecha de publicación: 
12 July 2023
Imagen principal: 

James Watt’s steam engine, Thomas Edison’s first light bulb or Karl Benz’s first car, all prove that technology has been paramount in the evolution of society since the Industrial Revolution unleashed in the second half of the 17th century. Then, in the second half of the 19th century, with the invention of telephone, telegraphy, and later in 1990, the emergence of Internet, helped introduce the concept of Technological Revolution. It was presumed, then, that societies would move forward focused on the wellbeing of human beings. But, what happened?

Although it is true that people's lives became easier and more comfortable with appliances such as the refrigerator, the washing machine, the television, the computer, the cell phone... on the other hand, a consumer economy developed and it led to a will to buy more than necessary, adding great pressure to the planet.

People were tipped into advertising manipulation strategies and —most of them— uncritically embraced the role of simple insatiable consumers easily manipulated.

In not a few societies, the act of purchasing is seen as a symbol of success and happiness, even though it has been proven by psychologists that it affects negatively the mental wellbeing of people. Depression, anxiety, social addiction and even eating disorders are related to the acceptance of advertising messages targeting social success via consumption.

In an interview granted by former President Mujica to EFE news agency, regarding consumption, he stated:

«We invented a mountain of superfluous consumption, and you have to throw away and live buying and throwing away. And what we are spending is our own lifetime, because when I buy something, or you, you don't just buy it with money, you also buy it with the lifetime you wasted to have that money. But with this difference: the only thing that cannot be bought is life. Life is spent, life is not replenished. And it's miserable to spend your life to lose freedom and not have time to spend on affection, which in the end is the only thing you're going to take with you. Life is not just working; you have to leave a good chapter of madness. Because when we do things out of obligation we are not free. We are free when we do things that motivate us, that we like. So it's not just a matter of wealth, it's a matter of happiness."

Perhaps this is the mindset that better explains why there are so many unhappy people in the world who are not actually poor.

The French philosopher and sociologist Gilles Lipovetsky, in his book Paradoxical Happiness, explains it this way: “consumerist societies are related to a system of infinite stimuli, of needs that intensify disappointment and frustration, when the invitations of happiness at your fingertips. The society that most ostensibly celebrates happiness is the one in which it is most lacking... the one in which dissatisfaction grows faster than offers of happiness. You consume more, but you live less; the more shopping appetites are unleashed, the more individual dissatisfactions increase.”

And although this squandering civilization seems to have reached a point of no return in terms of the atrocities committed on daily basis, (overexploitation of the planet's resources, the deterioration of the environment and the threat to our very survival), it is in the hands of humanity itself to change that order of things.

How can we do it? The first step is to convince ourselves, regardless of where we live, that happiness is not about consumption, but enjoying our lifetime, and find a true personal fulfillment though knowledge, culture, and human relationships.

The next step is to be aware of the fact that in order to save our specie, we must devote our brief time on Earth to affections.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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