Saturday, February 04, 2023 | Rajab 12, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Stories shape experiences, reality and colour our interpretations

If happiness is a theoretical construction, from where comes the bizarre emptiness and the dark feelings that have knocked me down? Also, constructed?

The haze in my head seems to be dissipating. The cold and dark feelings are moving away at a slow pace. The surrounding is strange. A bizarre and unreal emptiness. Time is an abstract concept until one needs to create a communication between experiences and events: consciousness, or the story you tell yourself.


Then the questions popped up: is happiness a right or a privilege? What makes one happy? Does everyone want others to be happy? I wonder.


Almost everyone has an opinion about happiness. Books on the subject are plentiful. Scholarly journals point to a serious field of study. The pursuit of increased and sustained happiness is driving people in search of a middle ground and compromises. But marriage, divorce, disabilities, or unemployment, have an effect on happiness. In the same way that it is believed that more is better – as if an increase in income brings lasting contentment. However, despite the growth and progress, people are not getting greatly happier. With social media, we live in the age of envy.


If happiness is a theoretical construction, from where comes the bizarre emptiness and the dark feelings that have knocked me down? Also, constructed? The shivering and the intense headache were real. Still, I wrestled to search for the happiness of perhaps being alive. Was I? Being active and planning the future has always been my normal. But now, there I was lost between worlds. When I disappeared from social media, some friends noticed my absence. That was my brief happiness. I mattered to them. Isn’t that what happens with likes and shares on social media? Instant pleasure?


I have spent weeks without posting any photoshopped holiday experience. I have thought to share my agony. The hair in disarray, and the tired and aching body would not make the perfect camera angles for Instagram Story or WhatsApp status. The images would not be the best to create envy. It would be too pragmatic to be intellectualised. There could be no vanity.


Immersed in a delirious time and space, I have tried to read all sorts of news from around the world to feel my existence: my world. The switch off life support in the case of Archie Battersbee – the 12-year-old boy who, allegedly, took part in an online chocking game - was not a theoretical construction nor was the fatal stabbing of an elderly man on his mobility scooter in London.


Closer to home, the dust storm warnings brought a sense of reality. The only truth that overrode any public relations reporting. The cyber scams continued to exist in a more elaborate format. Definitely, I was alive and kicking to grab my sense of well-being. Even happier that there was no need to hone my personal brand on social media. There was no need to show off the strength of coming out from a dampened valley. Good journalism, the one that explains and provides analyses but lets the reader have his interpretation, helped me to breathe. That’s because even breathing was exhausting. My sanity was unharmed.


The entire experience has triggered an understanding that nobody says the whole truth because words fail. Within society, there are complex relationships that involve leisure, the work environment, religion, money, social and health care, gender, migrants, and of course, social media. We are all part of the same fabric. Everyone, with no exception, plays a role in providing growth and happiness to generations to come. Because of that, there is a need to openly and broadly talk about social and economic issues in society. There is no price tag on anybody’s life because each person is of great value. We all come together in times of celebrations, hardship, or sorrow – though each narrative can be different.


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