With Vietnam's countrywide electrification rate approaching 100 percent, electricity has become ever more indispensable and essential to the quality of everyday life. The steady upsurge in household electricity consumption over the past years has been driven by a growing technification of the domestic sphere. Modern households are increasingly equipped with a variety of electric appliances that not only provide convenience and comfort but also serve as markers of social distinction. This essay explores the history of domestic electrification and people's aspirations to live electrically in urban Vietnam, from the colonial era until today. Inspired by recent advances in the anthropology of electricity, it investigates the meanings that people have attributed to electric home appliances through the ages and asks if, how, and why some of these have come to define what it means to live a good life. In the current era, however, living electrically has also come to reflect a global sense of “cruel optimism” in which people become increasingly attached to certain understandings of what constitutes a good life that are unsustainable in the long run, and detrimental to their well-being.

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