We have more than ever. Not just more things, but more options, more capacity, and more ability. Several hundred years ago a young peasant living in Europe seldom ventured more than a few miles from where he was born; longer journeys were rare and for serious reasons only. Much of a person’s life was “decided” by the place he was born. Even the person whom he married was decided by others, or at least limited to a very few candidates in his little village or section of town. The life of the average peasant was very circumscribed and he had limited knowledge of what was even a hundred miles away, let alone across the ocean.
Today, most people, even those of moderate means, can get on a plane and by the end of the day be thousands of miles from where they woke up that morning. Most do not live where they were born and most have virtual access to the entire world via the Internet. It is quite reasonable to know people from all over the world, or at least to know those who have been all over the world. Most people travel frequently to distant cities and sometimes to other countries and continents. Our options, though not limitless, are practically so, since most of us could never exhaust all the possibilities that modernity offers.
Are we happier? Probably not. I would argue that we are less happy. One thing is certain: wealth and modernity have brought comfort and variety but also stress and disappointment. Disappointment is increased because expectations are higher. Indeed, expectations are often premeditated resentments.
Our faster pace also makes us prone to boredom. Slowing down to the actual pace of human life and not having noise freaks us out. So if it is not stress that gets us, it is boredom, depression, and resentment. Welcome to the world of psychotropic medications in order to stay sane, or self-medication that leads to addiction.
Well, you get the point. Modern life is more diverse, comfortable, and affluent, but also stressful and ultimately discouraging because it promises what it cannot deliver: happiness. Happiness is ultimately an inside job and those who find it often do not have a lot or even need a lot. Most who discover happiness find that less is more, that simpler and slower win the day over glitzy and mesmerizing.
Something in this video sparked these thoughts of mine. I dunno, see what you think. But for all the biggie-wow ways this guy has available to him, in the end it is the simpler, slower, low-tech mode that wins the day. Modernity has its place, but also its price. Have a plan B for when all the techie stuff fails.