By JULIANNE PASCUAL
It’s a snap-happy world we live in. In the snap of a button, we post the latest tidbit tickling our mind on Twitter and Facebook. In a snap of a dSLR camera shutter, our inner photographer zones in on a panoramic view of something (we want others to consider) hipster, vintage, or just worthy of being called memorable. In a snap of a wallet, we can call ourselves fashion forward as our latest purchase from obscure and not-so-obscure online stores traverse their way to us, care of Air21, FedEx and UPS.
As a proud 90’s baby, I take comfort in the fact that my peers and I are the last remaining human archivists of what life was like prior to the Internet boom, the rise (and imminent downfall) of the Kardashian empire, and those sky-high shoes without any heels. In other words, we grew up with life as it sped forward—when it was in the transition between the simple and the simply complex.
The question, then, is this: In which time were we happier?
Happiness has always been a relative term, and perhaps, that’s the problem as to why it’s hard to describe whether what we’re feeling is genuine happiness. Having no set standard, each sensation of perceived joy can be considered different. Given this premise, is it possible to compare such a feeling?
When I was the 11 or so, my tech-savvy self was given a brand new Nokia 3310 by my parents. It was the highlight of my geeky tween life. Few kids had cellular phones at the time, and it made me feel special. And let’s face it: No matter how much we want to not show off, we’re bound to do it in a mock humble way. Believe me, did I show off my 3310 in a mock humble way! I was so proud of it. Shallow as it may seem, that phone—despite the fact that it lacked a camera, only served the purposes of texting and calling, and its most exciting game was Snake—made me happy for a very long time.
Paralleling this with the present, wherein the iPhone 4S is the epitome of all that is technologically great, I find it hard to derive that same sense or quality of happiness in a gadget. It gets harder to please people now, knowing that at some point (8 months or 1 year in from now), there’s probably going to be another version of the iPhone that trumps the latest’s features. In these snap-happy times, there are just so many things worth snapping up, that we tend to keep wanting more, more, and more. Contentment—a version of happiness, I believe—becomes harder to maintain and much harder to attain.
Relationship-wise, the same observations can be made. I’m not going so far as to say that the ones I have now are downright sucky. I like my friends, thank you very much. But forming them becomes a little bit more like an online search-and-select option as opposed to those let’s-get-to-know-each-other-by-talking-and-hanging-out connections. Admit it, you’ve probably “investigated” at least one of your friend-now-but-was-your-former-acquaintance’s Facebook profile to find out if this said person was worth your social time or shared any of your interests, at the very least. Maybe it’s just me, but I like finding out these things the old-fashioned way: by talking face-to-face. It gives me a chance to form my own impressions of others as opposed to the impression of their selves that they want me to form.
Most of the time, I find myself taking in my own snappy book cover judgments not by actually meeting people anymore, but with the mediation of online social networking sites. The Internet may be a helpful communication tool, but sometimes I wonder if we’re letting the Internet do the communicating for us. It’s a dangerous, snappy, online world we tread on. On a side note, this is why I like setting most of my social network accounts’ viewing options to private. It’s time for some self-preservation, people!
Anyway, to answer the question I posed earlier, when it comes to forming connections of the non-romantic kind, I think I was much happier pre-Facebook. But then again, I was also less moody, less psychologically nitpicky, and was willing to be friends with anyone as long as they shared their food with me.
The thing is, I’m not the only who feels this way. It may just be because my friends and I share the same brainwave, but we’re of the opinion that our childhood years were better than most. We were of the generation that could have water fights in the summer without fearing that we’d accidentally slurp down oil–or lead–contaminated hydrogen and oxygen. We were of the generation that actually knew what it meant to make a mixtape out of one’s own sweat and hard-pressed timing. Given that iTunes playlists and burning CDs had yet to be born, all we had going for us was a radio, a microphone, and a blank cassette tape. We were of the generation where it was inevitable that you took a side in the Spears-Aguilera, and not the Cyrus-Gomez, rivalry. We were of the generation that waited eagerly for our film photographs to develop, and not have them uploaded, tweaked, and edited for the admiration and Facebook likes of all.
Us 90’s kids, we’re going with the flow, but we tend to refer to our childhood years as the golden age of innocence and happiness. This is 90’s kid image. And I suppose this is also why Westlife, Blue, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and A1 will always reap profits from our bunch whenever they stage a reunion concert in the Philippines.
Technically, it’s not wrong to consider ourselves as having a better understanding of the “simpler” (hence, more easily contented, and thus, happier) times. It’s not like we’re hurting anyone by airing our thoughts and opinions. And the fact that they are opinions, and not statements we want codified into textbooks, gives us leeway to be as judgmental as we want. Still though, just imagine what our parents feel and how their parents feel. Now, their experiences are what I would call simple. Minus World War II and Martial Law, I think that they tend to think they had it golden as well. They lived in a time of the Philippines having an unpolluted Pasig River and Manila Bay, traffic-free roads, and less debt and credit problems.
Happiness is indeed, relative. The maintenance of its image and its sensation and perception is based on standards that vary with time. What made me happy then may not make me happy now, and vice versa. While I’ll always be a 90’s kid, I know that I must acknowledge the fact that I must move on from my 90’s bubble should I wish to survive in this world. There’s a time for reminiscing and there’s a time for living. I’ll chalk it up to the fact that a new year is beginning, which is why I’m gushing about my 90’s love. But on the same premise, the fact that a new year is beginning means that it’s the time to start thinking of ways to grow—to be a better 90’s kid and to be a better 2012 me. Sounds preachy, I know, but would it hurt for you to do the same?
Julianne Pascual is a senior at UP Diliman. She’s usually preoccupied studying the psychology of life.
When she’s not overanalyzing details about humanity, she can be found munching on whatever’s edible in her refrigerator.