Satisfaction might as well be the unicorn of human emotions, something many of us have heard of but few have ever glimpsed.
A culture that values money and fame above all else conditions those who live in it to always strive for more, bigger, better. As a result, many of us are constantly coveting something, be it more attention, more validation, more money. Or even the complete package that brings all the above together: fame.
Now that the internet has given us all a megaphone, it doesn’t matter what we’re famous for as long as we’re famous; any tactic is fair game. Cue desperate power plays for attention. Pawning our privacy for eyeballs and profit has become the norm. We even sacrifice our agency on the altar of personal gain by embracing victimhood culture. Empathy is lucrative and if you can harness it to line your pockets, all the better for your bottom line.
However, this isn’t good news for human communication. Now that vulnerability has become weaponized to tug at our purse strings, how real are we? Have we all become hyperbolists to get paid?
Be so loud as to become un-ignorable, we’re told. Forget about voice and having something to say, focus on tone instead.
When everyone is shouting at once, voices get drowned out; we’re no longer having a conversation. Instead of communicating, we’re competing for decibels, nothing else. Even though there’s enough sunshine for every human on this planet, there’s always someone whose ego will attempt to block it and keep it to themselves.
This is what happens when the scarcity mindset rules and drives our every decision; no matter how much we have, we always have to have more. As a result, we live in a permanent state of discontent and envy, always hungry yet insatiable with an eye on the past and one on the future.
The present, alas, no longer registers.
We’re too busy avoiding where we’ve come from and focusing on where we’re going to take stock of where we’re at and appreciate the scenery.
When we lack to ability to focus on the present moment, scarcity soon turns into greed.
And greed, by definition, involves a “selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed.” It doesn’t sound particularly laudable, either.
Or at least it doesn’t to Merriam-Webster.
Meanwhile, society at large continues to elevate and worship the art of one-upmanship and the wanton accumulation of stuff. At the intersection of capitalism and individualism, everything is a commodity, including human feelings and emotions.
Distorting those yields high returns, condemning us to a state of near-constant overstimulation. It’s getting more and more difficult to get away from the frenzied background chatter that never stops. Doing so can turn you into a digital pariah; you use social media sparingly and you leaving your smartphone at home on occasion.
But if we find the intellectual discipline to do that, we still get to enjoy memories that are not named after a company such as Facebook or Instagram.
In the same vein, we are more likely to derive satisfaction from the presence of people and from tiny gestures rather than from the presence of things. We cherish the smile from a random stranger that confirms we’re not as invisible as we feel. Or a ray of sunshine warming the tip of our nose.
Ironically, the one thing most of us want more of is cannot be purchased because no one makes it or sells it.
Well, that’s not strictly true if you live in a country where health care isn’t a basic human right and you wind up dying young because you can’t afford treatment.
Had you been able to purchase health care, it might have extended your life and given you more time.
Time is the great equalizer; we’re all given a finite amount to spend as we see fit. Squandering it on wishing for a tomorrow that never comes instead of making the most of today seems such a tragic waste. We can never understand that we’re bankrupting the present to pay for a future that’s not guaranteed. Meanwhile, we’re all running out of time, out of life.
Always wanting more means we can never enjoy what we have, in whatever quantity we have it.
Look, we already have so much…
How much is enough?
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.