It was only this week that I stumbled across a new phenomenon: happier.com. The very sound of it sent hatred through me, evidence that it has failed already in its stated mission of making users ‘Feel uplifted by our awesome community’. ‘Oh come on,’ I said to myself, ‘don’t just be obviously cynically and automatically hold such disdain for this new popular accoutrement of technological advancement, give it a chance’. From my subsequent research I can safely recommend that no-one should give this a chance.
The premise of happier.com, run by ‘Chief Happiness Officer’/Fuhrer of Joy Nataly Kogan, is that ‘You don’t need to be happy to be happier :)’……. sorry about the pause, I was just knifing my eyes out in front of a dying puppy.
Opposed to the protocol of social media kings Facebook and Twitter, users do not simply ‘post a status’ or ‘tweet’, oh no, these endeavours are far too depressing. Instead they have the honour of being able to ‘share’ a ‘moment’. Instead of angrily ‘liking’ a status, users are able to ‘smile at’ the moments of others. Instead of leaving a melancholy angst-ridden ‘comment’, users have the privilege to ‘Leave a happy thought’.
F**k off, f**k off and f**k off.
This artificial medium of happiness is what Aldous Huxley’s dystopia in Brave New World touches on, this is what yummy mummies will drop their mocha-choco-diet-latte-toffee-woffee-deluxe-daily-mail-vogue-loving-tea over and this is what I’ll end up decapitating its users over.
When attempting to sign in to the website, users are greeted with the following message; ‘Build a daily gratitude habit and feel more positive, optimistic, and less stressed about your life. (Yes, it’s that awesome.). Buy Now.’ Until now we, as a species, were all aware that as Luther and Janet prophesise, the best things in life (i.e. love) are meant to be free (apart from of the things that keep us alive, like food, water, oxygen, a woman’s love, Class A drugs – you have to pay for those). But the newest way to be happy online requires a payment in order to access optimum levels of happiness. I might order some happiness next time I shop online, whack it right in there with my regular packs of apprehension and those two cartons of self-loathing. A balanced diet indeed.
Let’s just make it clear, I am not against happiness and I am not against a moderated use of social media. Yes, of course we all have those certain people on Facebook whose posts are effectively suicide diaries, but the best things about Facebook include seeing your loved ones being embarrassed, keeping in touch with friends around the globe and, as seems to be the way, to keep up-to-date with the latest news. Why then do we need to be happier online? Surely the problem is offline? Research cited by the website claims that ‘expressing gratitude makes you happier and healthier’, which may well stand true. So even if this is the case, stop pawing at your iPhone like a mutant panther and actually go out into the real world (not the Apple store to repair said iPhone) and express your gratitude to everyone for everything, because no sadness, anger, cynicism or any other emotion is allowed in the emotional sphere, is it? And when Barbara goes on squawking about her son’s dentist bill and how she missed Loose Women because the jacuzzi needed new speakers fitted, you must smile.
The point is this. Humanity doesn’t operate by the means of one emotion – think of how many emotions we go through in a day, the list is endless. Limiting our emotional landscape surely limits our development, it is the equivalent of only ever eating one type of food, reading one type of book, socialising with one sort of person or having sex in one type of position. Social media, in order to remain genuine, needs to remain human, and that involves much more than constantly smiling like emotionally-retarded pugs. Happiness is found through different means from person to person, and the sort promoted by this is a contrived and self-gratifying happiness, opposed to the type I find when Amy Willerton fancies a public shower.