At Simply Zesty, Lauren Fisher asks a provocative question: why happiness?
Her point is that social media is frequently challenged for its (purportedly) negative impact on happiness:
What’s also strange, is the idea that social media in some way owes us happiness, that this is what it was created for. Yet when we look at the whole reason the internet was developed in the first place, knowledge and collaboration were the motivators. It was to develop a medium that allowed academics to collaborate and share documents in a way that wasn’t previously possible. This has since developed wonderfully to allow connections all over the world, continually contributing to increased knowledge of the world. But that doesn’t mean it has to bring us happiness. Maybe these things are more important than happiness.
Perhaps social media has been forced to carry this load because it’s arrived on the scene at roughly the same moment as a newfound interest in happiness. From The Happiness Project to the burgeoning academic literature on the science of happiness, more and more people are taking a close look at how, exactly, we get to be happy. And we’re asking that question just as we’re also asking how, exactly, we want to be online.
As Lauren points out, there’s no intrinsic relationship between the two. Social media may make some of us happy, some of the time…but it can also make many of us stressed out, much of the time. That doesn’t mean we should dismiss its potential value as a catalyst for social change, as a provocation to new ways of thinking, or as an enabler of new forms of relationship — some of which make us happy, but some of which will have other kinds of value altogether.
First posted on January 30,2012