What is happiness? It obviously means different things to different people. Or does it? The social media version of happiness is not very diverse: #food #exercise #fun #friends #love #blessed. 21st-century happiness defined by hashtags and how good people are at taking photos.
I tried to look for #sadness today. None of the Instagram posts resonated with me; they are all cheesy quotes written on blurry background photos. I tried to search for #depression, and Instagram refused to show me the posts because they violate some of their policies.
Social media is only showing me the happiness. And when it shows me misery, it adds an inspirational or positive spin to it. I am in a happiness bubble. I am privileged and sheltered from all the pain of the world apart from mine.
I do believe that to be happy, or at least to have a chance at it, I need to find the missing piece of the puzzle. And right now, I think that the missing piece is the misery, the negativity. To have a full picture, I need to expose myself to the bad things happening around me. Not through the lenses of the camera of someone else, or through an Instagram filter. I need to be in touch with humanity, my humanity.
I don’t want to do this to be grateful – grateful to whom? Chance, genetics, luck? I don’t want to compare my happiness or my sadness with others, as this behaviour is unhealthy. I want to understand my privilege and how I can best use it. I don’t want to say to my future child: “Eat your food, kids are starving in Africa”. I want to be saying “I want you to understand your privilege so you can choose to use it to help the kids that go to the same school as you and aren’t able to have a proper meal”.
A friend of mine said to me: “Maybe people are miserable because they have the privilege of time to be miserable”. Should I chase happiness? I feel like it’s futile and it would make me more miserable. There is too much pressure to be happy nowadays. I don’t think life should be centred around happiness, I believe there are more important things and life is supposed to be meaningful, whatever that means. Maybe happiness is overrated or wrongly defined. And we are too self-absorbed to see that.
Find meaning, and write back.