|Source: Ira Gelb (Creative Commons)|
Forty years ago we had a telephone in the flat with a cord that stretched maybe 3 metres, confining phone conversation essentially to one room. Now, forty years later, I have a cell phone that goes with me wherever I go.
Then, I had a car that travelled at a maximum speed of around 120 kph. Now, I could have a car that reached that speed from stand-still in around 6 seconds.
Then, I could board a ship and travel to the other side of the world in about a week. Now, I can fly there in less than a day.
Then, we had a television set that had three channels of programmes. Now, we have a television with at least a dozen channels and (if we subscribed to pay TV) we could have dozens more.
Then, I went to a library to research a topic. Now, I can search the Internet from home at any time of day or night.
Then, we bought local seasonal fruits and vegetables. Now, we can get exotic foods from anywhere on the planet at any time of the year.
Then, I was happy. Now, I am happy.
But, am I happier? I doubt it. Does our increasing consumption make us happier? Not really. There may even be indications that the opposite is in fact the case:
- Suicide rates have increased by 60% over the past four decades,
- The incidence of obesity has doubled since 1980,
- The use of anti-depressant drugs in the Western World has more than doubled since the 1990s.
- Americans have on-third fewer friends than they did 20 years ago.