jueves, 13 de noviembre de 2014

Should I have less friends?

Past week, I thought about Aristotle’s “virtue stands in the middle”. I guess my interpretation was incorrect.

During last year, I have been struggling about Facebook and their doubtful social function. From my personal experience, Facebook does not serve for maintaining relationships, but it helps me to know about how my friends are doing. Or at least, to know what they want other people to see how they are doing. Therefore, I think it is not a reliable source to being updated.

I ideated some strategies of alternative use of Facebook, like posting once per month with a general resume of what I had done, and thanking the people I had shared those moments with. It worked just once. On the other hand, the best solution I found to keep updated with my friends was writing letters. (Un)Fortunately, the mere nature of letters it is highly exclusive and time consuming, signifying the value of the relationships and the people involved on it.

Logically, the first weeks of my life in Copenhagen have been awfully busy: paperwork, flat and job hunting, create a social network, knowing how to move around… The point is I feel like I want to share my experience with my friends, with more than one. Writing a letter to each of them would have been tremendously time consuming, and due the situation I am, it seemed to me unattainable.

Trying to kill to flies in one clap, I wrote an impersonal letter and I sent it to some of my friends. Technology and e-mail allow us to make this kinds of betrayal to friendship and human relationships. In XXI century it seems that this is what we have, and maybe we should adapt to it. I cannot figure out this situation yet.

Within the variety of answers I have received to my impersonal letter the most common has been silence. Some of my friends have answer me back recounting  how is going for them; others have use instant communication to confirm the reception of the letter, show me their gladness for hearing news form me, and telling me their intentions to write me back. No hurries, no problem.

I guess those who remain silent have not receive the message, have not read it, (one said it was too long on the second paragraph), have felt offended by the lack of exclusivity of the letter, have not found time to answer me back, or have found it pointless. Anyhow, I think it is not a bad strategy to keep my distant social life alive. I found it way more personal than Facebook, where our friends are not our friends; or a blog, which is completely open and public.

Maybe the solution of my problem is having less social life, letting some of my friendships die, or communicating with people more rarely. Just to conclude, it is a pity to discover that well-intentioned attempts of caring for my social network have had these odd and no so positive consequences. I will continue looking for and building my way. Maybe I should come back to Facebook instantaneity…. 

domingo, 9 de noviembre de 2014


It was in a library when a friend decided to include me in a selfie. Trying to be nice and funny, I put one of my stupid grimaces for the camera. Sadly, the burst of happiness of the photographer was destroyed moments later when I discover that the destiny of the picture was, irremediably, disappearance. Merciless, without second opportunities; without thinking twice; without the possibility of erase the picture unwillingly while toying with the screen; without the possibility of losing the smartphone in a wild party night; without any brother who drop the milk in your device. The picture had already vanish.

This is Snapchat, a burst of fleeting happiness.

Each time I think about people uploading pictures of their breakfasts on Instagram, I start to freak out. (Call it breakfasts, touristic points, streets, sunrises, sunsets, kisses, poems … Call it life) Was it necessary to destroy the moment of eating your breakfast for taking a picture? Was it necessary to decide the filter while swallowing the last sip of your coffee? Was it necessary observe how the photo is being uploaded while chewing the last piece of your croissant? Was it satisfactory to see the likes of your Facebook friends while tipping the waiter? Did you upload the photo while taking the breakfast, or did you take the breakfast while uploading the photo?

Instagram aside, Snapchat is even funnier. The mere nature of time and moments fading away is not enough for creating suffering in certain people. They have to see moments vanish twice.

The main advantage of technology is to improve human skills. Words apprehend and possess reality more stable than thoughts; writing transmits our ideas and thoughts longer and further than voices; pictures preserves our visual memories more reliable and unalterable than brains; cars moves us faster and further than our bodies; Internet needs to be thoroughly analyzed; but Snapchat… Snapchat burst our happiness safer and less harmfully than drugs, I guess.

A couple of days ago, speaking with a friend he affirmed, One Snapchat video a day is enough for me to know what my friends are doing. I am happy just with that.
Naively, I asked, One Snapchat video a day or one letter a month, what do you prefer?

At this moment, both know what lasts longer. But, how sensitive we are?  How emotionally stable? How much do we need bursts of happiness? And, how sensible are our brains?

For those who have read Flourish (Seligman, 2012) you already know that happiness is not well-being. For those who have read Authentic Happiness (Seligman, 2004), you already know what savoring means. It is not about how much do we have, but about how much do we enjoy what we already have. Quality versus quantity. It seems that our damaged brains just believe in images. Thomas had to put their fingers in Jesus wounds to believe. Probably, a Snapchat photo would have been enough for him.

To finish with, I will tell another curious anecdote. Once, I needed some photos for an event to which I had not assisted. Therefore, I used the power of my social network to access to someone who had attended. I was incredibly happy when I found a friend of a friend who had gone there. Obviously in the Smartphone era, I was completely convinced that she had taken the photos I needed. I guess you already know with which app she took the pictures.

There was no picture at all of the performances. None. It had been two days ago, she had been there, taking photos with her smartphone, destroying her moments, consuming her life, and then, there was not any photo at all. The advantage of killing a moment is the possibility of recovering it later. Why do we have to retain instant moments in an instant way? What is the sense of it? If we want to immortalize a moment, we can do it. If we want to live a moment, we can do it. But, what is the purpose of killing moments, twice? A gush of happiness.

Life is disappearing continuously, but the wisdom I have found hidden among the words of these sentence seems eternal to me.

“Man when living is soft and tender; when dead he is hard and though […];
the tree when is too though will break”
Lao-Tzu, Tao Te King.

My rigidity has lead me to conflicts, suffering and the destruction of what would have been wonderful moments. Some may call it ego. I like to call it future, I like to call it hope.

                 Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment (Edición: 1st Free Press Trade Pbk. Ed.). New York: Simon + Schuster Inc.
                 Seligman, M. E. P. (2012). Flourish / Martin Seligman. North Sydney, N.S.W: William Heinemann Australia.

sábado, 1 de noviembre de 2014


(It was not the best day. Sometimes I lose my nerves.)

I guess I am not changing anything. Neither for the better, nor for the worse. The brain was made for adaptation. No matter where we end, well-being level and satisfaction with life will stabilize over time.

Anti-utopias tell us about the weirdo, that unhappy individual in an almost perfect world. 1984, A brave new world (Un mundo feliz, in its Spanish translation…), Black mirror, Wall-e … People will be happy and will remain satisfied whatever the conditions of their futile existence. Only the individual who does not know suffers. He who does not know how to avoid the responsibility of humankind; how to stop thinking about the destiny of our specie; how to forget the anxiety of death suffers, silently or loudly, but suffers.

1984, simply a solitary nostalgic of thoughts and vocabulary. Orwell wanted to tittle the work “The last man in Europe”. 1984 was less aggressive, I guess. A brave new world, such a couple of misfits. Even more, when they offer to be expelled one of them does not want to leave his perfect society. Nothing matters, nothing.

Black Mirror. Black mirror. A guy threatening with committing suicide with the screen of his jail, on a screen. Meanwhile people continue riding towards nothingness. Nothing happens, and that is what happens. The system does not introduce the glass in our throats because we are the system. We cannot kill ourselves; we are just adapting to live with the pressure of being reduced to vacuity. The bravery attempt of a weirdo change nothing. Because that is what they are going to change. Nothing.

[By the way, reality will surpass fiction. Value judgments aside.]

Wall-e. A happy ending story for kids to let them preserve the hopes for a couple of years more. Nothing further from the reality. However, it has a good point. When humankind loose the control, technology with a good purpose will be our only salvation. Not the designer, but the device. Id est, what is written, not the writer. Designers die. Designers with their calm conscience just hope that when they will be discover it will not be already too late. Once written I just can say:

Good luck.