6. The upside of talking to strangers
Davos attendees were quick to point out that by many measures — health, safety, literacy — this is the best time in human history to be alive. Nonetheless, fear, anger and pessimism are all around us, even up here in the Swiss Alps, Dave writes.
The big picture: We live in a society that incentivizes outrage and minimizes human contact, and it’s damaging our mental health, experts from Yale University told us.
Yale President Peter Salovey cited a 2014 study from the University of Chicago on happiness. Asked their preference, people said they would rather be alone than speak with a stranger. Yet, the study said, research links such encounters with happiness — and tech developments like texting and online shopping are making them more rare.
- "A lot of things that gave us pleasure aren’t part of our lives anymore,” he says.
Laurie Santos, whose class on happiness in spring 2018 had the largest enrollment in Yale history at 1,200 students, told us: “We’ve created an attention economy, and attention is a limited resource.”
- Social media reinforces the idea that anger and outrage are effective tools to get that attention, said Molly Crockett, a psychology professor. Outrage on social media is “like a habit,” she said, and has blurred the line between acting out and commenting genuinely.