Most of us live in the digital time, we like it or not. It’s difficult to imagine daily life without the Internet, virtual reality, social media. And the constant use of the devices: smart-phones, I-pods, etc. It’s a new mode of communication. It’s a new way the opportunities appear. It’s a new transmission of ideas. We have to take care of a more solid Internet connection. And to a tablet’s updated version. But there is another aspect of the same issue. A more vital aspect. Especially, when we look at this from an individual perspective. The perspective of a particular person. Her quality of life, happiness, and self-fulfilment. Philosophical topics for millennia.
This vital aspect is the way we need to use all these tools. Because these are tools. Tools for us to realize something more. For example, if you dedicate your time work to earn money for a new device, even if expensive, it’s OK. But what, if you use one percent of the technical possibilities of this new device? Why spending money on the newer version, especially when expensive? To show that you are trendy? Or, if you buy a new equipment for your kids so that they learn, it’s fine. But what if ninety-nine percent of the time they use it in a strange way? Like watching things that make them vulgar, stupid, and capricious? Now, we can ask: do they need it? From the commercial, economic, and technological standpoints, yes they need it. The quality of life with most modern devices around is sky-high. So it’s great. Buying new things, needed or not, seems to be a must. At least, this is what the commercials tell us every day. But do we need it, if we ask this question. Does it contribute to having a worthy and good life? For us and our families? Not for the companies. Not for the sales representatives? Well, not so sure.
DIGITAL TIME – A NEW APPROACH
The digital time doesn’t only mean a lot of digital technology around. It also means a new approach to the quality of life as related to having a good life. One that is not convertible into commercial methods of measuring. Yes, it’s true. We live in the commercial world. With the commercial mentality and the economy-type of measurement of the good life. But there are many alternative ways of measurement of what is worthy. Your own sense of the meaning of your own life may be one of them. Yet, it deals with something you can’t measure by objective terms. I mean the terms that everybody will accept. It deals with the subjective sense of self-fulfilment. And a justified sense of self-development. It deals with happiness. And unhappiness. And the quality of life has much to do with it. With the good life and with happiness. But how can we know if the quality of life is low or high? It’s easy to measure it by income and access to the newest technological devices. Does it make any sense to measure it otherwise? Happiness and unhappiness are too unstable criteria to measure anything. Well, listen to my story.
I grew up in a poor and hopeless Communist reality. I was sure, then, that it was impossible to suffer from frustration. Even to complain, in the rich and democratic West. ‘West’ meant ‘paradise’ to me and to my generation. Only stupid people, I thought, could complain while having access to all what they wanted. And even more: access to so many things they didn’t need! As it was in the West. After some time, my country became more or less rich and democratic. It has become Western more or less. Many people earned enough to get what they wanted. I observed as their salaries (and mine) rocketed. Their happiness has not. And it was most shocking for me. They had been striving to have more goods to become happy. They finally had those goods and their happiness was incomplete. Nowadays, the frustration in my booming country is as common as in the West. And this is one of the main lessons I learnt. Poverty produces bad things. But comfort does too. One big difference (out of many others). If you live in a rich society, you have access to the things that others do not have. One of such things is access to knowledge and education. Not only technological and economic. Also to knowledge about self-development. And about a good life in many meanings of this phrase. The digital media and digital devices make this access constant.
QUALITY OF LIFE
I use some key-terms here. Quality of life, the good life, and happiness. They are interrelated. They correspond to each other. For example, the material quality of life corresponds to the good life and happiness. Or, to put it better: it can correspond. Unfortunately, a lot of unhappiness and frustration appear instead. Even when the living standard is high. It’s easy to imagine somebody living in a wealthy place. Yet, for her, a day without the Internet is a hell. A crazy addiction. Or that a non-stop access to your Instagram can be a remedy to frustration. A crazy illusion. Or, boasting of having many FB friends and, at the same time, suffering from loneliness in a daily life. An insane priority that some of us like to choose. All this means a big dependence on the contingent things. On the external things. On the superficial things. This doesn’t mean that the digital tools are wrong. Their use of the tools is wrong in such cases. Not the tools themselves.