Warning: contains math, graphs and statistical figures.
But I have another theory that goes back to the cause and effect of things.
In the past, let’s say the last 100 or so years, we’ve had a lot happen; we’ve had markets crash and boom, wars fought and depressions hit. We’ve gotten to here, the internet age, and things are different now than they used to be. Entertainment is different. We still have wealth gaps which although shifted haven’t really changed in the grand sense – there are still poor and there are still wealthy. “The lack of money is the root of all evil.” and so on. But wealth meant something different then, and this makes up my theory.
Using ultra basic variables I’m going to assert that wealth, for the most part, in the past, would allow for more entertainment. Not only did you have more time on your hands, but you could also afford to buy lavish dresses and fancy cars. Remember, this was an age where the average, boring car could cost 8x (v. yearly salary) what they do today. We’ve got it pretty good now, relatively speaking.
Entertainment too has shifted. I can buy games for $5 and get 50+ hours of enjoyment from them. I’m making a bold and completely unfounded guess here when I say that’s probably the most amount of entertainment per dollar you could get, ever. A bit of math proves that if these numbers are to be trusted you could get roughly two movie tickets for the price of our $5s (relative to average wage again, which I’ll be using for buying power). Now, that isn’t terrible – nearly 4x cheaper than 2 movie tickets’ worth today – but still, the evolution of these things has shifted such that it’s much, much cheaper now to be entertained. Does that make you happier? Debatable. But I’m willing to bet it’s not hurting.
Piracy. I won’t go into the moral, ethical or legal issues but suffice to say, if you really wanted to, you could be infinitely entertained for the price of your internet service which is a) something you’re probably paying for anyway, even if you bought all your movies, music, books and games and b) decently cheap. It’s worth about 46 couple’s movie tickets, if we’re holding on to those numbers. Now, this seems expensive, but that means they’re getting 2 people x seven reels (~70 minutes) per week for 46 weeks. That’s 26.8 hours per person for the same buying power. Back to us: a firehose. Like, you’re literally limited by sleep deprivation when doing these calculations. There are enough movies, enough music, enough books and enough games out there to fill that entire year’s worth of time. It is, for intents and purposes, unlimited entertainment. Even if you ignore piracy and go legit, Netflix is $8 a month. Plus your internet connection, plus your computer or whatever you’re playing it on, plus the biggest screen money can buy you’re still laughing. There’s just no comparison.
The big difference is that no matter who you are, if you can afford that internet and have something to watch it on, you’re the exact same as the wealthy people. There’s no gap there. They would pirate the exact same things you would pirate. Their entertainment – at least, in this digital facet of life – is exactly the same as yours. Back in the day the poor looked at the wealthy enviously because (in part) they could afford more entertainment, but if it truly is as infinite as I make it out to be, that’s rubbish now. It’s the same.
So what does this all mean? Surely I have a point.
Well. Not really.
TL;DR I had a theory that entertainment is much cheaper now than it used to be (and so it is) and how wealth as a measurement of happiness via entertainment is therefor much less of a thing now. The internet breaks down at least one part of the disparity gap.
Oh, and I regrettably don’t have sources for the above car photos because Tumblr is remarkably bad at keep track of those sorts of things. My bad.
Look! More awesome posts: