I read this book in August 2019. I was fascinated by Mark Manson's interpretation of the 'Blue Dot effect'. If you were asked how happy you are on a scale from 1 to 10, what would you say? It seems no matter how many happy episodes we have, over time we are unable to be happier than our baseline happiness. We are on average a 7. We are happy 70% on average. Whether we have access to clean water or not, we collectively find reasons why we are not a 10 happy. There was an experiment in a lab where they put a computer screen in front of each subject that showed a colored dot, one at a time. When a blue dot shows up, the subject has to press the blue dot button. When a green, purple, red, orange, yellow or white dot shows up, the subject has to press the not a blue dot button. At the beginning, most of the dots were blue, then gradually there were less and less blue dots. Interestingly, as there were less blue dots, subjects started pressing the blue dot button when the purple dot shows up. It was as if the subjects believed there should be more blue dots and have convinced themselves that purple dots are blue dots.
Applied to real life, over time no matter how much less pain or inconvenience we suffer compared to people from a century ago or compared to people living in developing economies, we will always find something to complain about. We will justify why we are a 7 happy. We become more sensitive to pain. Mark Manson argues that technology innovation performs only two functions; it either enhances our pain or distracts us from pain. When we develop technologies that enhance our pain, i.e. replacing the pain of commuting on scheduled trains with ubers or the pain of a chronic disease with an immunisation jab, that is beneficial to society. However, when we develop technologies that distracts us from pain, i.e. computer games or social media that distracts us from feeling our feelings, we become a lot more sensitive to pain. We become unable to tolerate the pain having a conversation with someone who does not agree with us. We become unable to tolerate difficult conversations. Mark Manson argues that we do not have a crisis of capitalism vs socialism but a crisis of immaturity.