Is Facebook Bringing New Happiness?

2013-11-11 07:25

With the emergence of facebook – there has been many studies undertaken about the impact of facebook and its effects to the emotional and feelings level of an average individual. What is sticking out is that some of these studies allude to the unreality of facebook – that most of the time people have “facebook friends” who are not really friends at all. And therefore a conclusion is drawn that facebook brings sadness and loneliness, much as there is no actual closeness on facebook.

But it is very important that we precisely understand the nature and reality of what constitute “a friend”.  What is a friend in the general sense of the word?

Way back in bygone history around 1800 period, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the most profound American philosopher, seems to have prophesied about the dawn of Facebook, as a friendship platform. Ralph Emerson in the book Friendship provides a general sketch – an outline on friendship; what is friendship and what it consists of.

His simple view on friendship is that friendship is about caring and humanity in the broad sense of the term. And with that exposition in mind he writes;

How many persons we meet in houses, whom we scarcely speak to, we never met, yet we honor, and they honor us in return! How many we see in the street and with calmness and fondness we regard without speaking to them? or sit close to people we don’t know in church, whom, though silently, we warmly rejoice to be with! The heart knows.

“The effect of the indulgence of this human affection in this general sense is a certain cordial exhilaration. In common speech the emotions of benevolence are felt to each other like the effects of fire, more cheering and so swift. From the lowest degree of good will, they make the sweetness of life”.

What Ralph Emerson is articulating is that the people whom we call strangers often bring the best out of us. When discussing life issues with a person you just meet on facebook, just stranger, you suddenly have a rich memory – a fresh memory – excitement to share your feelings and “our dumb devil has taken leave for the time, and for long hours we can continue a series of sincere, graceful, rich communications, drawn from the oldest, secretes experience”.

And then Emerson strikingly states, as if he was prophesying about facebook;

“What is so delicious as a just encounter of people from various backgrounds in thought, in feeling? What is so pleasant as these jets of affection which make a young world for me again”?

“The moment we indulge our affections, the earth is metamorphosed; there is no winter and no night; all tragedies, all ennuis vanish – all duties even, let the soul be assured that somewhere in the universe it should rejoin its friend, and it would be content and cheerful alone for a thousand years.

How informing is Emerson about friendship, and what friendship consists of? Most of the time the people who can really help you and assist you are not your close friends but those people you call strangers. Strangers are real friends because their advice and counsel to you is mostly not filled with “issues” and personal baggage that often attend close friends. Facebook in this regard may be facilitating real friendship, perhaps.

Ralph Emerson finally declares; “I woke up this morning with devout thanksgiving. Who hears me, who understands me, becomes mine – a possession for all time. Nor is nature so poor but she gives me this joy several times, and thus we weave social threads of our own, we weave new webs of relations we shall by and by stand in a new world

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