It seems almost comical to think what used to rock our worlds. A first bicycle, a first kiss. Then the ante was raised to the first car, the first shag. The trend seemed irreversible. With every passing year the pains and pleasures became more intense. But anyone with a smart phone knows, this trend reverses.
We went from sneaking a peak at dad’s Playboys, to spin the bottle, to snogging behind the bicycle shed, to full-on formication in the back seat of whatever car was to hand. For those who embarked on that time-honoured tradition (which seems to have lasted at most two generations) the trend of intensifying experience in terms of both pain and pleasure seems to have reversed. Those poor sods born too late to experience the glory of the bicycle shed, have gone straight from My Little Pony to counting Likes on Facebook or Insta.
What used to be a life punctuated by maybe half a dozen really high highs, and perhaps the same number of really low lows, has degenerated into a kind of Xanaxed version of life where there are millions of microscopic agonies, and a similar number of nano pleasures.
Humans no longer seem to live for those milestone pleasures or dread those milestone agonies that life gives us. Instead we have become addicted to a never ending stream of miniscule pluses and minuses. We smile when we receive likes and we frown when posts receive no response at all. In a worst case-scenario we get a negative comment. Whatever we get, it is all forgotten when the next like arrives.
But who is to say this is necessarily a bad thing? How many loveless marriages were there when what the couple really wanted was either sex or romance and neither was satisfied with the result? So that turned into free love where people divorce for snoring and sexually transmitted diseases cull the most prolific.
Perhaps we are being ushered down some sort of Darwinian chute where our inability to be kind and considerate to one another is being reshaped by reducing our lusts’ power over us. Smart phones force a kind of refocusing of our attentions to bite-sized emotionlets we can handle. You can’t always get what you want – but you get what you deserve. Through antidepressants and our mobile devices, our lives are being reduced to lots of micro emotions instead of a small number of big emotions for which we are seemingly unworthy.