Happy self vs Happy society

Robert Putnam wrote Bowling Alone during the 1990s about declining social discourse in America. He chronicled declining civic life since the 1960s. In 2017, this trend has completely reversed thanks to a digital lifestyle powered by the sharing-app economy. Americans are emboldened to connect like never before. Ultimately, the pursuit of happiness and self-reliance drives the American journey. 

Oftentimes, this journey seems to idealize the personal brand and self-improvement over connecting with others. Every accomplished American has a philosophy and secret sauce for the rest to follow. Just think Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey or Donald Trump

Personal fulfillment is within reach if one stays self-focused, but is this just a temporary placebo resulting in longer term dissatisfaction and reduced civic participation across America? Does society pay a price when everyone seeks enlightened individualism? Do we truly feel happier by living the maverick life (of a guru) or are we happier developing our sanghas and communities through shared satisfaction and common purpose? 

Ruth Whippman, a British Journalist, provides an interesting counterpoint about her American experience. 

NYT link