The Internet and Society: How Social Media Gives Happiness to Different Types Of People

Everyone wants to be happy. I mean, is that not the greatest purpose in life right? Even when one is raised in the most horrible and the most terrible situation possible, that person, in some point of his/her life, will long for a little bit of joy. My example may be too extreme but that is just to emphasize how humans value the feeling of happiness and satisfaction in their lives. All of our endeavors have the same ultimate goal and that is happiness. It may be translated into different kinds of happiness, even making other people happy is one, but still in the end, we will always try to seek the things that make us feel alive. Yes, being happy is synonymous to being alive and that is just human nature.

There are a lot of things in this world nowadays that can make a certain people happy. To name a few, one can be happy out of personal achievements, healthy relationships, career development, revenge, chocolates, and ice cream. The list is practically endless. That goes to show that for each person, there is that unique happiness that he/she seeks for. Much like the satisfaction we get from food, hobbies, and sleep, people usually manifest true blissfulness when around with their friends and families. Most of the time, it is for the pleasure and satisfaction of others that we find happiness, much more from fulfilling our own wants and needs. The connections and bonds make time and money spending all worth it. The unlimited ability of humans to connect and interact and form worthwhile caucuses is the very reason why the world designed itself just like it is for the longest time. The creation of different races and geographical isolations actually was not just mere natural phenomena, it is also given to us as a challenge that will hinder humans to become one. Somehow, it is a divine joke. For many centuries, human civilization tried to develop and flourish in groups, which we call nations and continents. Nations rise and fall, all for the happiness of its own people, the people who are within the proximity and bounds of one another. Eventually, people became happy of who they are as a member of a group or country and not of the world.

This kind of happiness continued for so many generations and people were somehow satisfied not until the time came when technology broke the barriers. The moment technology found its way to better and efficient ways to provide communication too all of human race, that was the time when people started to gain another form of happiness and this time it is not just personal, it is not paternal, not even societal. This new form of happiness is considered global in scale. What I am talking about here is the thing we call Social Media.

We are oriented with the basic mediums of public communication in our lifetime. The newspapers provide us the print media. The radios are also one form while the TVs offer both audio and visual. However, social media, the new generation kind of communication medium, is the most powerful form of medium to date. I am not entirely sure if the creators of social media sites knew the impact of what they have created, but one thing’s for sure—social media is a global revolution.

Social media relies on the power of the internet. The concept was already existing decades back but it was not that powerful since access to the World Wide Web was still very limited and most of the times controlled. Technology was not yet capable of unleashing its potential and personal human privacy was pretty much a big deal. Upon the rapid development of wireless technology and the boom for mobile devices that can tap the world of internet, social media became both a superpower and a monster. The rise to power of social media was so uncontrollable and unprecedented that the world had no choice but to totally change and conform to it. There were no instances or chances given to people to assess its impact and the scope of influence. Truly, the world is now ran by social media and its spreading like a virus and growing like the hair of Samson. Its ability to connect every person in the planet to any platforms made the world an open market for information. The unlimited access to information paved way to infinite opportunities to happiness. It is the first time that the world experience true unification and because of this, the challenges and controls of the past that hinder humans to achieve global happiness has now been shattered and forgotten.

The influence and power of social media is now evident to almost all living human on the planet. The platform is somehow controlling the very lives of every human being connected to it. Most of us benefit and enjoy all the things it offers however, an alarming increasing number of preys are currently experiencing the bad side of it. Since social media is impartial and free for all, what clings to it are both the good and the bad. Sadly, most people do not have the ability to distinguish one from the other.

Here are some impact and effects that social media has brought down to the current human civilization:

Socialization

Social networking sites now open up platforms where people can communicate and reconnect to their families and old friends who parted ways from them. Not only that, people now has the ability to gain more friends, contacts, and partners anywhere in the world. Everyone can now follow the lives of their heroes, their idols, and their acquaintances. Social networking site users are now in touch of what is happening around the world, may it be for a place or an event for a specific individual. Some people uses social media to boost their fame, business, and talent. Organizations, academies and business groups use social media to impart knowledge, hold meetings, and conduct business deals faster and more efficient than ever before. Learning language and culture became so easy with the help of social media.

Politics

Government and election campaigns are now more effective if hosted through social media sites. Since more and more people are becoming active in these sites, politicians exploit these opportunities to disseminate their platforms and brainwashing speeches in the fastest way possible. Inversely, there were also instances that through the power of social media, rallies and mass movements were incited in trying to overthrow their existing governments.

Business

IT conscious companies are using social media sites to advertise their products and services, build customer loyalty and many other business interactions. Feedback and concerns from their customers are now being submitted faster and more organized thereby helping the businessmen improve their business endeavors faster and more efficient. Ads and different forms of marketing strategies that are being released into social media sites have found to be more effective in terms of coverage and turn-around rate.

Final Thoughts…

Like all things in this world, social media now shows both its halo and its fangs. The scary part of this though is its impact. Whatever output or information that social media provides, may it be beneficial or detrimental, surely millions of people around the world gets affected and may ricochet to a million more.

Having said that, let us allow ourselves to go back to our subject matter which is happiness. Since we are already acquainted on how powerful social media is and how it is currently influencing our very own lives, you guys may have the slightest idea on what kind of happiness do you have right now. Choose one happiness you feel that is genuine for you right now and trace back its source. Accept it or now, all of our current happiness are products of social media, one way or another. Yes, do not even try to deny it. Allow me to generalize this for all of us since at these times, the number of people who are not yet reached and touched by the power of social media is obviously insignificant and near to zero.

Since we all long to be happy and whatever social media provided us to achieve this, is still one form of it, then I won’t be judging you. In fact, if there is one truth that technology and social media had taught us, it is about freewill. No one in this world can dictate you on how you live your life and on how you acquire the certain type of happiness you seek. Since most of us are now puppets of this omnipotent form of technology, the existing choices we all now have depends to where to we invest our time and effort to.

The only question is, where does your moral compass points to? It all boils down to your motives. If you want to provide happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment to the greater good and to the world, then, blessed are you and you have my all out support. On the other hand, if you want happiness just for your own self, disregarding the welfare and lives of others that may be affected by your actions, then, I hope you know what you’re doing and ready for the repercussions.

Top 10 Countries Where People Live the Longest

Life expectancy rate speaks volumes about the quality of life and healthcare of a certain country. It refers to the average age a person born in a specific country is expected to reach before death based on massive accumulated data from citizens as a whole. The latest data published by the World Health Organization is in May 2016. Here are the top 10 countries where people of both sexes are living their lives to the fullest:

9. France and Sweden – 82.4 Years Old

It is amazing how France is still composed of healthy people despite the demand of restaurants here. Most of the country’s staple dishes are also high in saturated fat. However, France remains one of the countries with the lowest cases of cardiovascular and coronary diseases. Studies show that the French’s lifestyle of frequently drinking wine has a significant effect with the country’s life expectancy rate. The safest way to drink plenty of wine is just two or three glasses every day.

Sweden, on the other hand, may have struggled in the past years because of negative economic changes affecting their healthcare systems among other things, but most people there still live longer than those living in other countries. Consistently being the country with the lowest number of smokers has a lot to do with why Swedes stay on top when it comes to getting older than most.

8. Israel – 82.5 Years Old

There are three major factors why Israeli men and women live longer than most countries: location, religion and military training. The trend with locations along a coast is having a healthier population. Added by the strict lifestyle of their religion, Israelis are meant to age gracefully. When it comes to men, joining military service contributes even more to the established life expectancy of the population. Physical training to join the military and continuous exercise in the service is always intense, leading to a few cases of medical conditions among Israeli men.

6. Italy and Iceland – 82.7 Years Old

What’s interesting about Italy is that the small difference of lifestyle between social classes there has a big impact on why gathered data resulted to the country having the sixth highest life expectancy rate in the world. One example is reliance on the Mediterranean diet which spans all Italian social classes. Italians love to cook fresh everything – fish, vegetables and fruits. So, their animal fat intake is lesser than most countries. Italian cuisine also uses plenty of olive oil which is healthy. Another factor is that people in the beautiful country of Italy don’t usually do binge drinking because they normally pair meals with wine.

Despite the economic downturn of Iceland decades ago, the country managed to catch up and maintain a wealthy government – hence stable programs for public health and high-quality healthcare. It also has a low rate of drinkers and smokers since the 1980s. When it comes to diet, Icelanders love to eat fresh coldwater fish which is one of the healthiest food. They also prefer to eat meat from free-grazing animals, obviously untouched by medicine and other artificial enhancers. All around the world, they are known as a friendly and peaceful bunch. They love to mingle with other people in public hot tubs to have fun, relax and soak in warm water, which is beneficial for the skin, muscles and overall well-being.

4. Spain and Australia – 82.8 Years Old

The biggest factors why Spanish people live longer are healthy diet and strong family ties. Like Italians, the typical Spanish diet involves Mediterranean dishes that contain a lot of olive oil, fresh fish, salads and fruits. Cases of heart disease and different types of cancer only come in small numbers. If ever a relative gets sick, Spanish families really make sure to cook healthy and fresh meals for the unfortunate one. Then, they take care of their relative until everything is okay. That’s why patients there can easily recuperate.

Meanwhile, the dominant contributor to why Australia is recognized as a country with high life expectancy rate is the population living in or near the Australian Capital Territory. Residents there undergo high-quality education resulting to high-paying jobs. The area also has state-of-the-art healthcare. The average income of people there is more than enough to spend for medical care. Interestingly, Australians in the ACT are mostly government workers. So, they are not exposed to jobs that require unhealthy amount of time and effort.

3. Singapore – 83.1 Years Old

The rich country of Singapore has a high life expectancy rate because it works hard for it. Singaporeans make sure to continue with excellent health services and programs, especially for mothers and children to prevent diseases as kids grow old. Another thing about Singapore’s healthcare is the encouragement of natural preventive measures against diseases such as exercise and herbs. When it comes to health and wellness, everything is high-quality and accessible in Singapore.

2. Switzerland – 83.4 Years Old

High-quality lifestyle, healthcare system and happiest population are the strongest points of Switzerland. The Swiss are consistently known around the world to be the happiest and most united people. When it comes to work, they don’t work long hours and file for overtime. They also prioritize lunch breaks and not working on Sundays, which is proven by a lot of closed shops.

Switzerland is heaven on earth for mothers. Working mothers get to rest at least 14 weeks after child delivery because of the country’s generous maternity leave program. Another thing, the Swiss love to walk everywhere. Streets in the country are very friendly for pedestrians.

1. Japan – 83.7 Years Old

For how many years, Japan is always known to be the country with the highest life expectancy rate compared to other developed countries. It is given that Japan has an excellent healthcare system because of how wealthy it is. New studies preferred to focus on the fact that Japanese eat the healthiest and most balanced meals. Japanese diet is mainly composed of fish, lean meat, fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates mostly coming from rice. It is low in processed ingredients and saturated fats.

The Japanese government itself pushes healthy diet to all the citizens because it really created a comprehensive diet plan for the whole country to follow back in 2005. Everything is balanced in the diet plan: dairy and soy products, eggs, fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, grains – even sweets and alcohol! The result? A country almost free from cardiovascular diseases.

Final Thoughts

Looking back at the reasons why people live longer, living a long life is really not about how developed and high-technology your country’s healthcare system is. It all comes down to discipline and positive outlook in life. Stress is also a big contributor to diseases. As you can see, many countries in the list have perfect work-life balance and united population.

Culture For Dummies

It’s culture!

Films, books, paintings, operas, museums, ancestral homes, antiques – things that people mundanely associate to culture. India’s annual Festival of Colors (Holi), for instance, reminds us of the vividness of Eastern cultural landscape. The same thing goes when we experience the enthralling lights of Broadway. There’s a sense of intimate allure, yet hauntingly distant. We imagine culture as an exotic, romantic, and fashionable existence out there, far away. But it’s not.

Culture is one of the most ambiguous terms in the English language. In 2014, Merriam-Webster announced ‘culture’ as the Word of Year. They explained that this word saw the highest spike in terms of lookups on their site. “Culture is a word that we seem to be relying on more and more. It allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group with seriousness,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large. We live in a world where the use and abuse culture is widespread. With this in mind, we need to ask, “What is culture?” In his classic work titled Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom, anthropologist Edward Tylor defined this concept as the “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society.” This definition is considered as the most popular (and quoted) anthropological conceptualization of this word. The word was originally derived from the archaic Latin colere which means to ‘to tend, to inhabit, to till, to worship.’

Culture is a central but contested concept in anthropology and sociology. It covers a complex range of social realities and phenomena transmitted by means of social learning. It gives people an array of cognitive tools for them to make sense of their world. And unlike the general assumption that it is ‘far away’, culture is actually unfolding right in front of our eyes. It is not always romantic and exotic; but it is practical, repetitive, and a guide to our every day humanity. It is not solely about music, or fashion, or taste, but an intricate combination of all these components weaved together to create multitudes of daily habits and practices. To better understand this point, Conrad Kottak (author of Mirror for Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology) posits that we can examine culture using a number attributes.

Attributes of Culture

1. It is learned. The way children absorb culture is dependent on humans’ biological capacity to learn complex thought. Most of the time, culture is learned unconsciously. Cultural knowledge is transmitted through observation and performance. It is usually passed from one generation to another, a rigid social process called enculturation.

Like Homo sapiens, other animals have the capacity to learn. For example, we can teach our dogs to do a trick or two. Wolves can learn hunting strategies by watching and tagging with other pack members. There are even group of chimpanzees capable of using simple tools to hunt their prey. These are social animals that learn from other members of the group or their environment. And the capacity to learn is important for them to survive. But cultural learning is radically different since it requires the ability of decoding/encoding symbols (signs that have no necessary connection to the things they signify). Humans can learn things despite the absence of actual experience. Students can learn the life of Adolf Hitler even though some were just born twenty years ago! This is possible because we have universe of symbols embedded in our culture. And we retrieve this information whenever necessary. It points us to the next attribute – that culture is fundamentally symbolic.

2. It is symbolic. This implies that social meanings are encoded into symbols such as words, signs, actions, events, objects, etcetera. Symbols are usually linguistic. But there are tons of nonverbal symbols around us. We think of countries when we see flags. Diamond is a symbol of wealth. A double arch may signify a particular fast food chain for many of us. Or we picture a clothing brand when looking at a bold check logo. We can efficiently transfer knowledge to a wider public because of our ability to encode and understand symbols.

(Centuries from now, future archaeologists may study the symbolic value of Star Wars franchise by analyzing artifacts like DVDs and merchandise. Who knows?!)

3. It is shared. An individual cannot simply claim that he/she have his/her own culture. Culture frames individuals as members of groups, sharing, producing, and reproducing practices and meanings together. Ever heard of the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”? It reminds us that behaviors and practices are simply parts of a larger whole – a communitas. Shared ideals, beliefs, values, and memories glue people of the same group. And enculturation makes people closer by providing similar experiences and worldviews.

4. It is all-encompassing. This means that all people are “cultured!” There’s a time in history when the term “culture” can only be associated to individuals with education, sophistication, high socio-economic pedigree, and those who can appreciate arts and letters. That’s just elitism talking! Culture encompasses people and the triviality of life. It includes pop culture, hip hop, and heavy metal music! It is more than the expected refinement – of partaking wine and cheese. Culture is about the grueling monotonous routines that we see unworthy of serious analysis.

5. It can be adaptive (or maladaptive). For 150,000 years, humans survived because we have biological and cultural ways of coping with environmental pressures. Moreover, social and cultural means of adaptation has only increased during the course of human evolution. It is seamlessly embodied by the survival of populations in extreme environmental conditions such as the freezing domains of Siberia and the arid ecology of Kalahari Desert.

The Viliui Sakha of Northeast Siberia is a good example on the resiliency of local communities. They are pastoralists and horticulturalists, well-accustomed to the cold climatic condition of the area. Come winter, the temperature drops to -50 to -60 degrees (they call this hard climate). During its peak, flying birds would usually freeze and die. And whey they spit, it will freeze before hitting the ground. Even though the place is almost freezing all throughout the year, they can still store enough food stuff because they understand what resources they should acquire, use, and maximize during a particular period. In addition, their local knowledge on sowing hides for clothing protects them from the desolate icy winds of Siberia. Winter is a territory of comfort for the Sakha. In this case, culture is a central tool kit to their survival.

Final Thoughts…

I think it is high time for people to recognize the nuances of culture as a conceptual tool. It may be complex but never impossible. Exploring the diversity of culture is a journey in understanding perspectives and voices. In a rapidly globalizing world, culture will eventually serve as bridge in understanding local narratives.

Why Terrorists Exist: It’s Not about Religion and Politics

Some people would say that terrorists are religious nuts. Some even believe that terrorists want to rule the world. Surprisingly, everything about that is false. That’s why it is unfair that certain communities are discriminated just because some of their people resort to terrorism. The real motivation of terrorists may surprise you.

The Study

Jessica Stern is the Pardee School of Global Studies’ research professor. According to Boston University, she managed to study the psyche of a terrorist who is imprisoned in Sweden. In August 2012, her whole probe reached six hours. Turns out, the terrorist’s main drive is not about ethnic beliefs – he just loved to kill people.

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Stern eventually wrote case studies about her encounters with many different terrorists. In April 2014, one of her studies was published in the journal titled “Behavioral Sciences & the Law.” She actually has been focusing on this kind of study for at least 20 years now. She successfully talked with extremist cults in the US, terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon, Indonesia, Pakistan and Israel, and India’s Hindu extremists.

The Reasons

Stern concluded that out of the many causes, drives and motivations she heard from the terrorists she interviewed, none of those exactly fit religion and political views. Some answers were interesting and unexpected.

Violent Household

Terrorists have bad childhood experiences. Some of those cases don’t necessarily refer to violence in the place they grew up in. Some terrorists can still remember clearly how their parents beat them up when they were still kids.

Trauma

Now, here’s where general violence enters the picture. Many terrorists were traumatized as children by the horrors they saw in war-ridden countries. Their trauma develops into activism, and support or tolerance for violence.

Ecstasy

Extremists love the excitement they get in terrorizing people. They love the adrenaline when things get risky.

Peer Pressure

This may sound petty, but some terrorists actually joined extremist groups to follow their friends. Some were probably pressured or blackmailed. Meanwhile, some just didn’t want the idea of ending friendships. Creating violence together seemed like a fun activity for them.

Ideology

Some reasons are close enough to prove that religious differences cause terrorism. But, the root is much deeper than that. Some terrorists want to live in a world where there is only good and evil. They don’t want to deal with people who can be good or bad in some instances, which is a normal thing for humans. Some groups promise that notion using a certain religion. So, they easily gained terrorist recruits.

Source of Income

This is probably the saddest of all. Some terrorists are just plain desperate. In poor countries, terrorism becomes a job.

Revenge

Most terrorists suffered injustice their whole lives. So, to feed themselves with the idea of justice, they terrorize the general population under the regime they loathe.

Humiliation

Stern considered humiliation as the risk factor for terrorists, especially the founders of extremist groups. According to her, one Kashmiri militant founded a terrorist group because he hated how the West overpowered Muslims. But, the hate is not mainly focused on western countries. Terrorists are humiliated that they are part of the world’s minority. In exact words, the terrorist group founder said: “Our ego hurts.”

Final Thoughts

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Interviewing terrorists is definitely not easy, according to Stern. The world-renowned researcher said that she must leave all of her personal opinions about terrorists before interviews. That’s why her research studies are so successful. Stern understood the pain and psyche of terrorists. The worst things they do come from the worst things they have seen and experienced growing up. Understanding terrorists’ motivations, drives and reasons can affect greatly on how to stop terrorism in the long run.