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Why Pure Joy Could Be a Problem -- The Aspects That Matter As Well, and Even More

Updated: Apr 17

A young lady with a headset.

The Joy Shortcut: A Blissful Trap?

Joy is an integral part of out lives. We love the feeling of joy, it is blissful and makes us feel good. This rush of happiness and good feeling makes us seek it sometimes too much, as if we chase it endlessly. It's an emotion capable of being an an unresticted rush, compared to falling head over heels over someone, and giving it to them, too! 

Some of us, however, chase joy to the point of addiction. That's when we are exposed to the most honest part of being a human. Without our ability to make discertion, we can unfortunately become like rats pressing on a button of joy for the mere point of joy, ad-infinitum.

Joy is addicting for a reason, after all, for it is contagious the same as it's gratifying. That is regardless of whether or not joy stems from morality, as it should for morality to be applied more frequently.

But what if technology offered a shortcut to joy? What if we didn't need to work for joy?

Imagine a device, like a helmet you put on your head, and isolates your experience from reality. Let's call it the Neuro-Euphoria Stimulator, or the (NES). It's even better than the original NES! It bypasses everything you usually need to do to get it. Instead, it directly stimulates pure joy with, well, a push of a button...

This hypothetical NES presents a fascinating paradox. While it eliminates the need for external sources of happiness, it could also dismantle the very foundation of a meaningful life, as it becomes the one true source of happiness to be a good simp for.

Here's why:

  • The Erosion of Experience: The (hypothetical) NES bypasses the journey, the struggle, to growth. All the elements that make joy truly earned and deeply satisfying are gone. We become accustomed to instant gratification, rendering the need to work on ourselves, as useless as working as an ornemental hermit.

  • Love and Connection on Hold: Why invest in complex relationships when the (superior) NES offers a dopamine rush on demand? The device could erode the need for love, friendship, and family, isolating us in a self-contained world of fleeting pleasure. We wouldn't love or appreciate others as much as, you know, pressing buttons like lab rats.

  • Apathy and Stagnation: Contribution to society often requires overcoming challenges. The NES (totally not a nefarious scheme to deter the populace from critical thinking), eliminates discomfort. It could stifle motivation and leave us content with mediocrity.

This dilemma isn't new. Consider video games. While they offer entertainment, the allure of instant gratification they provide might make us question the effort required for real-world achievements and the cultivation of genuine human connections.

The (Ulterior-motive devised) NES becomes a metaphor for how hedonism can be a liability more than an asset at times. The philosophy prioritizing pleasure above all else. It's kind of ruthless against, you know, those who suffer and could use our help. While happiness is important, it's a fleeting high if not built upon deeper meaning and purpose. What do I mean by "deeper"? I mean when it has several benefits beyond the service of its own mindless accumulation.

Roads to Nowhere

These machines could be eitther humanity's crowning achievement or its ultimate downfall. Philosophically they are capable of disproving the idea that happiness/joy are entirely subjective, for the key to true happiness lies not in learning from cats but from lab rats.

Imagine returning home from a tedious workday, only to bypass human connection and simply press a button for guaranteed joy. This machine could dismantle the very pillars of society, for society is based and preserved on working towards success and on overcoming ourselves. With such easy way to get pleased, many people who are prone to be lazy, won't bother showing up on work as much, and even when they get there they would easily be distracted by the thoughts and genuine passion to get their next fix.

Should the device be self-sustainable in terms of energy, you'll find people on the streets and slums getting endless fixes and escaping from reality. After all who cares for the importance of work and other commitments when you can get that sweet, sweet joy, permanently?

Success often matters more than joy or happiness because the accomplishment of our goals yield a greater benefit than our personal drive for pleasure.

Hence the shortcomings of hedonism. While seeking pleasure is natural, it becomes a shaky foundation for a life of purpose. Morality, responsibility, and contribution to society all take a backseat when instant gratification reigns supreme.

Hedonism fails to answer questions like: Why volunteer for a cause that brings no immediate pleasure? Why invest the time and energy in love, which can be messy and complex, when a button offers a dopamine rush? These machines, much like idle video games, which require very little effort towards victory.

If anything, the true value of joy itself, but in its journey towards it. Then, the joy is used as a reward of the journey that was made. Joy, then, becomes ideal when it is secondary, AKA, when it creates this functional habit of making worthwhile effort towards greater accomplishment.

A "Joy Machine" offer a hollow substitute. An escape made to replace the richness of a life well-lived. Why, then, not strive for a balance? Why not cherish both the struggles and the reward that both make all the overall endeavour fulfilling?

When Trapped in the Mechanism of Love

Consider procreation. Why endure the challenges of raising children when a few button presses offer instant gratification? Pure Joy render essential aspects of human existence – love, family, social interaction – obsolete more than your average search engine. They remove the struggle, the growth, the very elements that make joy earned and meaningful, and relationship fruitful, deep and honest. Of course that includes romantic relationships, and in love, like with the love of wisdom, joy is not everything.

I once questioned a former friend, "Why the obsession with love? Isn't it simply for the good feelings?" Her hesitant "maybe" resonated deeply. However, love, in its purest form, transcends mere pleasure, as it involves sacrifice, vulnerability, and a commitment that goes beyond fleeting highs and honeymoon gateaways. Now tell me, rhetorically, can a machine replicate that complexity?

A machine providing pure joy might promise instant gratification, but it's a seductive trap, a succubus if you will. For Iti could weaken our resolve, turning us into pleasure-seeking automatons. By doing so, we risk sacrificing the very essence of what makes life meaningful for countless people: love, family, and caring for other human beings.

The allure of a shortcut to happiness is strong, but don't be fooled. You'll find yourself alone without the ability to embrace suffering, which is a necessity in part of accepting reality. Embrace the messiness, the struggles, and the highest and the lowest of human connection. Resist the fears that entail with the thoughts of mere unease. They would only get in your way of your goals.

Write, love, create, connect – not because it guarantees happiness, but because it's in the journey itself that we discover what we're truely capable of, and thus work towards the life we truly want to love. Mere "fixes" of pure joy would make you end up like a drug addict who's in a deep need for rehabilitation.

Ms. Hali Bash-March's Feedback

I remember hearing a professor's talk about the joy we get from expecting something happy to happen, like a vacation.
It said that the brain releases the hormones of happiness when we think about the happy event, as we imagine it over and over in our brain. When our vacation actually arrives we feel happy but sometimes less then how we imagined it in our brain.
So, the idea that expecting something and working toward it is better then just getting the end result is very much true.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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