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share link   happiness (23)    living (16)    philosophy (15)   

Happiness is everything. You wouldn't ever do something that you didn't think would make you happy, right? You might object saying that making other people happy is more important, but then, it could be argued that that virtuous feeling of making others happy ultimately makes you happy. Some people believe that all motives or thought processes can be unified by single personal imperatives like happiness or pleasure. The objectivists believe everything can be ultimately reduced to self-interest. And some psychologists believe everything can be reduced to symptoms in the head.

But to focus solely on one's personal experience is to live life with a mirror constantly in one's face. It's akin to measuring the world only by the feelings it generates in you, and not on the actual content of the world. The philosopher Robert Nozick asked, "Would you rather be a brain in a jar that was stimulated all the time to feel happy?" Most people would answer no, which Nozick ascribes to the reality principle. Being connected to reality is important in of itself. We do things oftentimes because of their intrinsic value, not because of their felt qualities. People help others not just because it feels good, but because they believe it to be good. And while it could be argued that following one's righteousness feels good, the helper is not chasing the prospect of the good feeling from righteousness. If the payload of good feeling is removed from the equation, as it is oftentimes reduced to a split-second of satisfaction, then pretty soon it starts to look like the virtuous are chasing virtue for its own sake?

share link   futurism (52)    society (26)    fashion (5)   

The successor to hipsters can be best described by the term "hipostate," which is a compound of "hipster" and "apostate." While the term "apostate" is usually reserved for someone who has abandoned a religious affiliation (the opposite of apostle), it has relevance to the New Hipster.

Hipostates are people who like things un-ironically. They eat fast food not because they are trying to act poor, but because they think the food is tasty, reasonably priced, and a great delivery vehicle for calories. While as a hipster's prime motivation is to sample and remix a medley of subcultures, wearing them like a badge, with a wink in their eye, hipostates eat fast food because it's good.

There are billions of people who eat cheap hamburgers, but that doesn't mean they deserve to have the label "hip." What distinguishes the hipostate is their awareness. They know that their interests may not be cool, but they partake in them anyways. They seize them, wear them nonchalantly, and that unabashed-ness is the next trend after hipsterism.

This new movement is similar to willful philistinism, which describes the behavior of the 1980s British upper-crust who didn't have time to read books. They proudly celebrated their dislike of opera, poetry, and all things intellectual to compensate. But hipostates may like opera and the finer things, they're just not "for" or "against" any broad categories like the Sloanes of Britain.

Whereas hipsters are into emulating the general feel of cool tastes, hipostates do them one better by being extremely specific in their tastes. The hipostate takes time to delve into specific subcultures, picking and choosing pieces to suit their individual tastes. The hipster, on the other hand, is too busy partying to carefully calibrate their consumption.

share link   creativity (5)    innovation (1)    futurism (52)   

One strategy for coming up with new high-tech products or services, is to simply concoct superlative hypothetical situations out of existing technology. For example, a budding entrepreneur could look around at his office, point to something, and prefix "always on." "What would be different if we had an always-on camera? What would be different if my microphone was always on? What if the screen on my phone was always on? What if unlimited data was a genuine promise, and one could have always-on file transfers on their phones?"

Other exaggerated modifiers could be, "on your wrist," "the size of a pinhead," or "in the cloud." Given the inexorable trend of technological growth, this seemingly amateur parlor trick generates business ideas that reliably anticipate future trends. What one component gets, every component eventually gets. If something is "on your wrist" or "in the cloud" today, why couldn't everything else be that way tomorrow?

share link   happiness (23)    psychology (20)   

According to twin-separation studies, people have an average set point of happiness that they naturally return to, like an equilibrium. While this implies a genetic factor to happiness, it doesn't necessarily mean we don't have freedom to change our happiness. First, the set point only determines about 50% of happiness levels. Second, genetic factors can be either direct or indirect.

Direct genetic factors affect happiness through biological means, perhaps through a certain balance of neurotransmitters. Changes in neurotransmitters can lead to changes in temperament, which determine how anxious or calm someone is likely to be.

Indirect genetic factors affect happiness through behavior. For example, there is a gene for risk-taking, which in certain contexts, such as being a male entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, could lead to a consecutive string of positive professional outcomes, which would then trickle down to positive circumstances, such as having a stable income and home, which could contribute to happiness.

Conversely, someone could be genetically pre-disposed to make emotional judgments about people, and therefore consistently wind up in abusive relationships. They could have all the genetic ingredients necessary for a stable temperament, but those ingredients wouldn't be enough to overcome persistently troubling circumstances.

This is either a hopeful or hopeless conclusion. It's hopeful in the sense that while there are genetic causes to our happiness set point, many of those genetic causes are through behavioral tendencies, which we can correct by making better choices. But it's hopeless in the sense that happiness can also be conceived of a habit, and habits are difficult to change, potentially harder to change than temperaments, which anti-depressants are becoming increasingly specific at correcting.

share link   politics (10)   

Liberals mock stereotypical conservatives with their gas-guzzling SUVs and gaudy McMansions, without realizing that their brand of consumption is not much better. Wealthy liberals buy hybrid or green cars, but replace them every couple years, leap-frogging each other over who can have the right, trendy car. Their cars are adorned with bike racks, roof racks, and filled with high-end yoga mats and artisanal bottles of tea. They buy products with value-added labels such as GMO-free or Local, but find them in stores that have an order of magnitude greater variety—and therefore higher operating expenses—than traditional grocery chains. Stereotypical liberals distinguish themselves by replacing conspicuous consumption with conscious consumption, meanwhile consumerism remains a constant vice all along the political spectrum.