Making ourselves happy

I just got off recording a podcast which was focused on AI and sci-fi. Not my favorite topics. Reminded me of a moment in the excellent Déclin de l’Empire Américain (1986).

Ce qui veut dire qu’un mariage réussi n’a rien à voir avec le bonheur personnel de deux individus mariés ensemble. À la limite, la question ne se pose même pas. Comme si une société en développement se préoccupait davantage du bien collectif ou d’un bonheur hypothétique futur plutôt que de satisfactions individuelles immédiates. […] Et je pose la question paradoxale : cette volonté exacerbée de bonheur individuel que nous observons maintenant dans nos sociétés n’est-elle pas, en fin de compte, historiquement liée au déclin de l’empire américain que nous avons commencé à vivre ?

I’ll attempt a translation.

‘ This means that marriage has nothing to do with the personal happiness of the two married individuals. Actually it’s as if the question doesn’t even come up. As if a developing society is more concerned with collective happiness or a hypothetical future happiness than immediate individual  satisfactions […] And I ask the paradoxical question: isn’t this focus on individual happiness that we now observe in our society today, in the end, historically linked to the decline of the american empire which we have started to experience?’

It came to me as we discussed progress, innovation and ways of making our individual lives more effective, efficient, full of personal happiness and fulfilment. It’s harder to care about others, what we have to engage with collectively. Easier to shave off seconds from cooking or booking experience. So we have more time to check Facebook perhaps.

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Founder of designswarm & the Good Night Lamp. Ex CEO of Tinker London.