edited by Jadyn Fording
Happiness in the Digital Age
Happiness has been something that people have tried to attain for as long as we have been alive. As an American, the first example of this that comes to mind is a well-known phrase from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In today’s world, happiness is more complicated than ever. I firmly believe that joy comes solely from our own actions. I have come to this conclusion by listening to what different people have said about joy.
Rapper/singer Tyler, the Creator released his fourth studio album Flower Boy in 2017. Since releasing his first album Goblin in 2011 at only 17, his music had almost always had heavy themes of death and violence. Flower Boy turns away from these themes and explores inner peace. In the album, he refers to your “garden,” a metaphor for your inner joy. You should notrely on other people to water your garden for you; instead, you should water your own garden. Father Mike Schmitt, a Catholic priest, shares a similar view with the rapper. He argues that happiness is completely extrinsic and circumstantial, and that joy is intrinsic and comes from yourself. While Tyler, the Creator isn’t religious, he and Father Mike both have the same idea about joy and happiness, simply expressed in two different ways. However, exploring the religious side of joy is just as interesting as listening to Flower Boy.
The Seven deadly sins are a list of the categories sin is committed in. Among them is the sin of sloth. As can be inferred by its name, sloth includes sins of physical laziness, spiritual laziness, and failure of action. Thomas Aquinas, a long deceased Catholic preacher, described it as “sluggishness of the mind which neglects to bring good.” It has been found that lack of action and productivity decreases overall happiness. It has also been found that social media decreases happiness. This is due to the addictive nature of the internet and social media. As the amount of time humanity is online rises, rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide are rising too. So, this begs the question: in the digital age, how do we find joy?
After thinking about this extensively, I have determined that our own actions must be our source of joy, or our “water.” Joy is intrinsic, and we know that doing nothing will not result in happiness. Therefore, some sort of action must be taken to achieve joy. It simply has to be our own actions, because it is impossible to achieve true joy extrinsically, through relying on other people. For example, the number of likes you get social media indicates whether or not the postwas well received. Many teenagers today base their self worth on the numbers of likes and comments they get. This is allowing others to water your garden for you. The only way to be able to maintain a healthy garden is to water it yourself, because you never know when the people watering it for you might stop or start using poison instead of water. Letting other people water your garden leaves it in constant danger of dying.
The pursuit of happiness is a journey that connects all people, regardless of where you come from or what language you speak. We all think about it in our own ways, which is completely valid. However, exploring the religious view of happiness can be very fruitful in providing wisdom. Joy is something that humanity needs to know more about, especially now that we are in the digital age. Everyone should know how to water their own garden.
Father Mike Schmitt, “Why Joy is more Christian than Happiness” Sept. 26, 2018https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RleRm-GBOA
The Declaration of Independence, ushistory.org