In my recent interview for PolitiPeeps, I sat with Larry Sharpe to discuss happiness. With changing times, each new generation faces challenges that align with the culture, technology, and other characteristics of the period. He says change is a constant, but this time around the changes are profoundly different.
Social media has fractured every aspect of our lives, both socially and politically. People are more confused and polarized than ever. What’s it like to grow up in a fractured, polarized, and confused world? In our interview, Larry spoke about these, and other ideas.
Why This Matters to Larry
Larry’s generation grew up in classrooms and on playgrounds. The children and adults in his life were mostly constant, with a few people moving in and out from time to time, but his world felt reasonably static and stable. Finding love, respect, and purpose in a static community was already difficult before the Millennium, but today things have changed in deep, and apparently permanent, ways.
The root of happiness is respect, love, and purpose, and you find those things in your community.Larry Sharpe
People’s social lives change so rapidly today that the traditional sense of community has been shattered. We change jobs more often, our workplace stretches across continents and cultures, and we are more likely to move thousands of miles away from where we grew up. What happened?
The Rise of Big Tech
Social media happened. The Internet and the Information Age have revolutionized our personal networks. The unintended consequences of making it easier to connect has completely changed the paradigm of personal relationships. On the one hand, it has opened up the whole world to us, on the other, the vast access to people and information has become a flood of chaos.
I asked Larry how kids can even survive, let alone be happy and find their way in such a complicated world. His response was illuminating:
My daughter was watching PewDiePie, and I asked ‘why are you watching this’, and she said ‘because I feel like I’m with him.’Larry Sharpe
PewDiePie is one of the most popular personalities on the Internet today, and he is popular because he gives kids today a sense of community. The root of happiness is respect, love, and purpose, and if you find those three things you’re quite likely to be happy. But once you have them you have to maintain them. It’s like what the Red Queen said in Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll). You have to run as fast as you can just to say in one place.
Personalities online, streaming services, and online gaming platforms give the participants a sense of community, but only as long as they deepen and strengthen their relationships with the individual. People are forging their own unique personal identities out of the fractured pieces to today’s social landscape.
Watch the interview with Larry Sharpe to learn more.