When happiness is actually anxiousness

Jeremy Bentham formulated his principle of utility in the eighteenth century–that the right action is the one that promotes the most utility, or happiness, for the greatest number of people. His philosophy came to be known as ‘utilitarianism.’

Getting ‘views’ on your Snap Stories and ‘likes’ on your Instagram posts is a great way to increase utility under Bentham’s framework.

John Stuart Mill thought more deeply about Bentham’s ideas during the nineteenth centuryMill classified utility as consisting of ‘higher pleasures’ and ‘lower pleasures.’ Some pleasures bring ‘happiness,’ whereas others bring ‘contentment.’ He famously wrote, “it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.”

Mill would consider someone pining to get ‘views’ and ‘likes’ a fool, because what seems to be making us happy is actually making us anxious in the long run.

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