“You’ll Own Nothing and You’ll be Happy” is a phrase made famous via recent memes and frequently associated with the Great Reset, an initiative proposed by the World Economic Forum often accused of being a plan to create a global totalitarian government where people own nothing and have no freedoms.
But where exactly does the “Own Nothing and be Happy” phrase come from, and is it relevant at all to the accusation of a planned totalitarian government? Could it be something more innocent being misinterpreted and associated with an unrelated matter, after all?
The phrase originally came from a 2016 essay by Danish MP Ida Auken which was included in the video “8 Predictions for the World in 2030” by the same ol’ World Economic Forum. More specifically, the essay was titled: “Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better.”
In the essay, Auken makes a prediction for year 2030, writing that in 2030 one doesn’t own a house, a car, appliances or clothes, instead renting everything as a service. The essay also predicts mass surveillance where her every movement is tracked, and a society split in two with massive swathes of discontents living outside the city. As of 2022, the essay is no longer available on the World Economic Forum’s website.
Predictably, once made popular, many people reacted in horror to the implications of Ida Auken’s predictions. One 4chan anon summarizes it best in his response:
The reason “you will own nothing and you will be happy” sounds so scary and dystopian is that I find it very easy to believe the part about owning nothing, but not the part about being happy. Every day I see lies and scam. There ain’t no rich cougars in my area that want to meet. The button that says “save” on imgur doesn’t save, it just demands I register and download their app. My internet service rates had a star attached, explaining that they are only valid for first 24 months and then go up. I learned to approach advertisement and promises of something nice in a cynical way, and found out that I’m right in most cases.
So it all comes to this. You will own nothing and you will be in despair.
That’s a very sobering paragraph to read. It reminds of me of my old college days, when I owned a desktop PC with Windows ME on it. I used to play the game Solitaire while listening to music through my headset, and it whiled away many a lazy college afternoons. Just a kid playing a game he paid for (via the purchase of Windows) on a computer he owns.
Recently I tried to do the same on my PC, running Windows 10. Solitaire looks a lot nicer now, with fancier graphics and sound effects. However, before I can even begin playing, I am forced to watch through a 30 second long advertisement on Microsoft’s network. The same advertisement also had a helpful message on the bottom of the screen, communicating that if I paid something to the tune of $10 to $15 a year for a subscription, I can forgo the mandatory advertisements. Once I do start playing, once every few games, advertisements would once again load and I will be forced to watch another 30 seconds of them before I can resume.
I don’t play Solitaire on my Windows PC anymore, and I absolutely agree with the fear and horror that people, including the above quoted 4chan anon, have toward “You’ll Own Nothing and You’ll be Happy.”
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