Business - Written by Jeff Perron on Monday, March 30, 2009 20:00 - 5 Comments
Does the Web make us happy? – Part One
Nearly every prominent element of the human environment – from housing, to family, to diet, to climate – has been implicated in countless analyses of its correlation with human happiness. The Web, and how we use it, however, has not been.
In searching (the Web) for thinkers who have given thought to a correlation between happiness and our use of the Web, I found Jim Stolze‘s Virtual Happiness Project. Stolze’s research question – Does the Web make us happy? – is the focus of this post, the first of two on the topic of the Web and human happiness.
Stolze postulates that our romance with the Web (which has only grown stronger with the level of interactivity that characterizes Web 2.0) is fuelled by our need to interact with others. Stolze observes that, i) being social makes us happy; ii) the Web facilitates social interaction; and iii) unsurprisingly, we have readily adopted the Web.
If the Web facilitates the social interactions that make us so happy, does the Web itself make us happy? I realize in full that this is an incredibly simple, broad, and highly ambitious research question. It is, however, a question that deserves contemplation and serious academic attention, particularly since any child born today will likely grow up online, bathed in bits, figuratively speaking.
Immediately, a number of examples pro (a CBS report on internet addiction) and contra (an earlier post on how the power of the Web is being harnessed by therapists to treat clients) the Web’s ability to elicit happiness come to mind.
Is this a debate that comes to the common, but anticlimatic, conclusion, “like anything, it can be good in moderation?” Or will we able to say, conclusively, that humans are happier living with the Web?
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