People struggle to live a good life, even though every person understands this term in a different way. Moreover, this notion has undergone changes with the development of the world. A particular historical epoch as well as a particular society provides its own opportunities and challenges to lead a good life. Contemporary communication is not an exclusion. Nowadays, a good life and happiness are perceived in terms of consumerism, technology use and civic engagement.
In general, people agree that happiness is one of the essential constituents of a good life. For centuries, philosophers and scientists have been trying to explain what happiness is. In any case, happiness is easier to experience than to define. Its definition is considered as discordant. It means that not only the end state of happiness matters but also the means used to get there are vital. According to V.J.McGill, happiness presupposes the state of affairs with the most favorable ratio of satisfied desires to desires. According to the hedonistic approach, the main goal in life is to pursue pleasure. An American philosopher Robert Nozick with his Experience Machine conducted the most famous thought experiment based on this approach. He asked if a person would exchange real life to virtual reality, in which a machine could give any desired experience, any possible pleasure. This experiment have proved that not only physical pleasure matters, as in most cases people refused to give up their real lives. Although we experience happiness in everyday life, every person has one’s own values and, therefore, requirements to be happy.
Thus, some people pursue a good life by spending a lot of money on specific goods and services. A consumer culture is primarily organized around the norms of individual consumption. Consumerism forms needs and desires that are impossible to satisfy. Economic prosperity depends on how much money population spends on goods and services. Consumer culture gives opportunities for business as it makes profits. It is beneficial for people throughout the world, especially from the countries of the Third World as it provides employment. Being valuable for economy, consumerism creates social and environmental issues. It gave birth to sweatshops where people work in harmful conditions for little money. Besides, numerous billboards in the cities and down the roads do not attract the desired attention of potential consumers. Consumerism also damages the environment because it waists natural resources.
Nevertheless, the society cannot tolerate the negative impact of consumerism. Activists run campaigns against consumerism both in real life and on the Internet. They have launched Buy Nothing Day, a single day without consumerism. It is significant that they celebrate it on Black Friday, the day when shops make the biggest profit. Eventually, the majority of goods end up as trash since in most cases people do not really need them. It is a personal choice to buy or not to buy. However, it is important to keep in mind that we pay not only with our money but also with our time that we need to spend earning this money.
Speaking about the second abovementioned precondition of happiness, it should be mentioned that the use of technological devices both contributes to a good life and prevents people from leading it. It gives an easy access to information, opportunities to stay in touch with friends who live or work in other cities or even countries and to find new friends. Therefore, it makes people stay connected to the world. The use of technological devices is beneficial for business as it makes it dynamic and global. When new services or technologies appear, they steal time both from other technologies and from non-technological activities like conversations with family and friends, going out, etc. It is what we call a principle of partial media displacement. The negative impact of technology use is that it steals time. Many people claim that they can effectively multitask. In terms of using different devices, it means they manage to write a paper, monitor social media and chat with friends at the same time. In fact, it is not so. The effectiveness of each activity in multitasking is much lower than a single activity performance. Moreover, managing a few activities simultaneously leads to burning out syndrome. Balancing of technology use in the age of constant connection can be challenging because for many people it requires changes in lifestyle. Thus, it is all the matter of propriety.
As to the third precondition of a good life, it is worth underlining that on the way to happiness one should consider desires and needs of other people. Civic engagement defines how citizens participate in the life of their community. Modern communication gives an easy access to information and possibilities to be involved in different ways, even staying at home. It is similar to dealing with social networks. The world we live in provides us with many issues; to solve the latter people need to work together. Anyone can participate on different levels: on the level of local community, city, country, the world. To be engaged in social issues is challenging nowadays. Only a small number of people are interested in rights and duties. Besides, civic engagement is based on a good will of a person. Although it requires too many efforts, it makes no profits. That is why it is not so valuable in the modern material world. Nevertheless, society is our milieu, and in order to live a good life it is important to care about each member of it.