Ours is the generation of YOLO, of reality tv and meaningless fame, of social media memories that disappear in seconds. Ours is the generation of ‘do it now cause you don’t know what tomorrow will bring’, of motivational quotes and avocado brunches, of altruistic ambitions announced under shirtless selfies. Ours is the generation of pleasure before perseverance, entitlement before effort and fun in place of happiness.
We’ve been sold the idea that our lives should be an endless stream of enriching experiences (at a cost) and that if we’re not having fun, then we’re not happy. When we look around at our peers we become anxious because it seems that everyone else is having a much better time than us. Fun then becomes social currency – we chase the good times to gather content to upload onto our feeds to make us the envy of others to gather likes to maintain our egoes which convinces us that we’re happy. More fun equals more happiness. We’ve placed fun above all else because we think that fun equates to happiness. How wrong we are.
This is not a phenomenon reserved solely for gay men but it is an affliction that we own so well. We drink, take drugs, party hard and curate the best parts of our lives on Instagram. Big smiles, washboard abs, group shots of us and all our gay friends at Coachella, in Mykonos, at WE parties, at drag bingo, at drag brunch, watching Drag Race. Isn’t it fabulous? Isn’t it fun? Well of course it is but it shouldn’t be mistaken for happiness. When the music stops and the tan fades and the last contestant sashays away, how do you feel then? If your joy continues then you’re on the right track but if you’re waiting for the next party or the next holiday and those moments in between are filled with yearning, discontentment or doubt then something is wrong.
Fun is fleeting – it’s a short lived experience that is dependent on outside factors which are temporary. Happiness is dependent on nothing outside of itself. It’s rooted in feelings of love, joy and contentment. It’s the feeling of oneness with what is.
Now I don’t want to come across as the fun police nor do I want my ramblings to be misinterpreted as a call to avoid the good times. Life is meant to be enjoyable and we should embrace the special moments that punctuate the common. What I am suggesting is that we become more conscious of the motivation behind our actions. For so long I blindly pursued my hedonistic side, running around the world being wild and free with no care for consequences. I thought that I was being driven by a YOLO approach to life but what I’ve come to realise is that I had been seeking happiness and that I had confused it for fun. It didn’t matter which club I’d been in, who I had slept with or how crazy the experience had been, those moments did not sustain me for much longer after they passed.
Gay men have long been stereotyped as fun and fabulous; the go-to guys for straight girls who want to have a good time or a wild night out. Why is that? Are we such a hoot because we have more of a tendency to disguise our unhappiness with flamboyance? Do we have more fun because we need the distraction?
Don’t let me stop you from seeking pleasure – I encourage you to let the good times roll on. Have fun, be wild, be free but be conscious of your motivations. Know that life happens in between the Instagramable moments. Understand that instant gratification is not sustainable. Be aware that fun is temporary. Learn to find happiness in the mundane.
Image Credit: ‘Viva Las Vegas’ by Matthias Vriens McGrath
Pleasure versus fulfillment is the difference between spending your time and investing it. Or the difference between consuming and creating.