There Is No App for Happiness
In the book “There Is No App for Happiness,” author Max Strom explains how to find inner balance in the age of social media.
We have to choose our technology wisely. If we bring technology into our life, it should simplify our life. It should give us more free time, not take it away.
Photo By Mackenzie Boetes
In a November 1989 episode of The Cosby Show, Clair Huxtable sends Cliff to the store for some last-minute Thanksgiving groceries. When Cliff returns without the canned pumpkin, eggs, or nutmeg, she sends him out again. Wet leaves blow inside as he opens the door and, with a withering look, exits into the relentless storm outside. If you watched this episode when it aired, you might have laughed along with the live studio audience as Cliff returns a second time, still without eggs. But if you happened to catch a rerun in the past decade, you probably wondered—if only for a split second—why he didn’t just pull his cell phone out and call or text while he was still at the store to make sure he had everything.
We have become so connected, and so accustomed to being connected, that it is difficult to imagine a world without the technology that keeps us close. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram. If you haven’t taken to any of these, surely you text and email. Two decades ago, technological innovation centered around convenience and saving time. Now it is how we communicate.
As we build our virtual social networks, it’s easy to forget that we’re charting new territory. Certainly, a cell phone would have streamlined Cliff Huxtables’ grocery shopping that day. But has the ability to call, text, tap, or lurk any time, for as long as we want, made us happier overall? It’s a question worth asking, and Max Strom, personal transformation coach and author of the forthcoming book There Is No App for Happiness: How to Avoid a Near-Life Experience (April 2013), is looking for answers.
Strom sees a common denominator creeping behind an array of problems from depression to high blood pressure to the current recession. Technology has begun to distract and overwhelm us, knocking our priorities out of order. We might have encyclopedic knowledge of the Twitterverse (or The Cosby Show), but “our own personality, our own life is unexplored territory,” says Strom. “With some focus on our internal life and changing ourselves personally, we would solve a lot of the world’s problems very quickly.” He cites the economic collapse of 2008 as an example. “Because there was what I call a gradual ethics collapse in our society, we experienced an economic collapse, and it’s really a side-effect of a larger problem.”
If dreams and relationships are the stars by which humans have navigated life for generations, then media (social or otherwise) have littered the sky with light. We can barely discern which points will guide us in our efforts to make life meaningful. So we reach for our GPS. “A lot of this is not being discussed in terms of what we can actually do about it,” says Strom in a voice that’s unrushed, assured, and calming. “A few people are pointing out our over-infatuation with social media and so on, but what I want to focus on as a teacher of personal transformation is what we can do about it on a very personal basis. I don’t really think we can change the world until we change ourselves.”
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