The Faux Pursuit of Happiness

Chaiane Cui
Published on
December 23, 2022

Embedded into the unspoken rules of society, people learn that being satisfied with life should be the default setting of our emotions. However, sometimes achieving said satisfaction requires distractions from the fact that society is not always sunshine and rainbows. Distractions from everyday life vary from person to person yet the goal is the same - to provide a temporary dose of relief from reality. Some may engage in mindless partying; immersing themselves in a scene that numbs their brains from any thoughts or emotions momentarily. Others choose to isolate themselves and avoid feeling emotionally depleted by watching countless hours of TV. Similar to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, society chooses to use these distractions to shun away depressing and mood dampening aspects of life rather than facing the issue.  

Human beings are social animals and need interaction with others to gain relief from their daily lives. While the current pandemic restricts any large gatherings, some young adults choose to ignore authority because they simply cannot cope with the idea of isolation. This results in covid parties and vacations in other states to escape. Being isolated from the public does not contribute to their happiness but digs a deeper pit of loneliness and deteriorates their mental health. Some factors that affect adolescents and young adults yearning to feel surges of dopamine from endless partying and raging music is due to being in the “intimacy vs. isolation phase” and this eventually leads to impulsively partying or detaching themselves (Hoffower). This phase of development is considered a part of a grieving process and it is difficult to abandon methods that provide instant relief as people desire deeper connections with those around them. 

Not everyone prefers to engage in human interaction, as some look for other forms of coping mechanisms. During the worldwide lockdown, those who were affected by the economic crisis or social distanced turned towards countless hours of streaming on services like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney Plus. For example, Netflix experienced a tremendous rise in subscribers during the first 3 months of 2020, seeing almost 16 million people creating accounts. Numerous studies were conducted from 2013 to 2020, showing corresponding results between binge watching and being in solitude as it offered instant gratification and hedonistic needs (Starosta 7). To deal with feelings of despair or current problems, people seek companionship from fictional characters or a TV series. TV genres like Korean dramas, anime, and mystery are some of the main genres that society engaged in because they provided interesting, alternate realities. These distractions would continue for extended periods of time because many series were available to the viewers’ needs and continued to recommend shows that would suit their interests. 

Distractions vary from person to person, but they are coping mechanisms that divert the attention of those who are unwilling to face their complications. They create an endless cycle of unproductiveness and lack of motivation as these temporary fixes create that standard of satisfaction.  

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