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Facebook Breakups and Political Theory

December 3, 2010

Who would have thought that a Wall Street Journal article about Facebook breakups would make me think of political theory?  Before I get started, check out the link below about Facebook breakups.  Boyfriends and girlfriends beware….it turns out that one of the peak days for breakups on Facebook is two weeks before the Christmas holiday!

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748703572404575634590655423862-lMyQjAxMTAwMDMwMDEzNDAyWj.html

Upon looking at the chart that compares the preferred methods of break up between those born before 1975 and those born after 1984, I began to wonder how new technology has affected political theory.  Since the chart shows that those of younger generations would be more likely to break up over the phone or through an Instant Message, I thought, well, maybe younger generations would be more likely to use new technologies to understand political theories and create their own.

How has new technology affected political theory?  Without studying statistics, it seems as though technology has allowed political theorists to distribute their ideas more efficiently.  It is easier for people to see others’ ideas through the Internet, meaning that people can further develop their own ideas using ideas from others (without plagiarizing, of course).  Through blogs such as this, political theorists and political theory students can add pictures and diagrams to clarify their ideas.  Students and teachers can interact 24/7, as long as technological devices cooperate, making it much more convenient for the learning process to take place.

Further relating this idea to political theorists we have studied in class, I thought of Mill first.  Mill would like the development of communication devices, such as Facebook.  While breakups and strong opinions may be harmful to some people, Mill would argue that enhanced communication allows the progression of knowledge.  People can learn from others’ opinions and ideas and therefore improve their own.  Even if an idea or an opinion is wrong, people are able to form stronger personal arguments if they are able to see all opinions that exist.  Also, society would ridicule those who were wrong without government influence.  Mill would want the continuation of improvements in technology so that people can better understand each other and therefore better understand themselves and the world.  Maybe with better understanding throughout the world, there will be fewer Facebook breakups?

14 Comments
  1. awodarczyk permalink
    December 3, 2010 3:49 PM

    Very interesting post. I really liked how you incorporated new technology enhancements with the views of Mill. I do agree that the new developments in technologies allows people and political theorists to provided thier views with much more ease. Also, I think it is interesting how you linked the idea of people using technology to see others views and then build off those ideas to development thier own ways of thinking. As you said, this is a very similar to Mill’s ideas of expression, and how we can learn from others ideas and mistakes. Thus progressing knowledge in a way, Mill never dreamed of.

  2. seangordon permalink
    December 3, 2010 9:07 PM

    I always like considering how these different political thinkers would have seen the world today. A lot has changed, especially by way of how humans interact and connect with one another. I think that this would have dramatically changed how some people like Mill would have viewed life. that being said, I think you are right that Mill would have seen a tool like Facebook as a useful tool. Good post.

  3. Andrew Clark permalink
    December 4, 2010 12:36 AM

    In English class, my professor (Korey Jackson, PhD) gave us an assignment – write an 8 page paper about social technologies are affecting our relationships and our society. So far, as a class, we have, without consensus, found that people begin to reflect the tools they use. (Google makes us skim through pages, Facebook creates a world of acquaintances instead of friendship). With that in mind, I think that Mill would only approve the tools that specifically improve the happiness of the people that use them. I think that Facebook could land on either side of the argument – does it enhance the relationships that we already have or does it make for weak links between people, like the girl that broke and make up 30 times on your wall post? Its an interesting inquiry. Thanks for your post (Sorry if I’m rambling!) It got me thinking!

  4. Melissa Glassman permalink
    December 4, 2010 10:34 AM

    I truly very much enjoyed your post. I think your analyzation of the “facebook breakup” was extremely intriguing. I also agree with your theory that Mill would have appreciated facebook as well as other technology because of its ability to present us with multiple people’s (including our close friends) opinions on issues. Not only do I agree that Mill would have enjoyed facebook’s concept, but I also believe he would have been thrilled to learn about all that it offers; however, one thing he probably would have loathed is the “honesty box”. Certainly, it offers people the ability to voice their opinions, yet, as we discussed in lecture, (like our voting system), it is anonymous and this Mill would NOT have liked because it is like “chickening out” – Mill believed if you have something to say, say, don’t hide from it. Interesting article as well as conceptual thought in comparison with Mill’s theories. Great Post!

  5. darriensherman permalink
    December 4, 2010 2:18 PM

    This is a very intriguing post. I love how you inquired political theorists opinions on modern day technology. I do agree that Mill would have embraced blogs such as this one for stating one’s opinion and learning from others. He would be fascinated by the blog in that people are listening to each other’s ideas, and that no wrong opinion exists. However, I am not quite sure whether he would have been one to have a facebook page. He says, “Supposing it were possible to get houses built, corn grown, battles fought, causes tried, and even churches erected and prayers said by machinery- it would be a considerable loss to exchange for these automatons even the men and women who at present inhabit the more civilized parts of the world…Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model” (638-639)
    According to this quote, it does not seem that Mill would have been fond of facebook. He would think that people hide behind technology to express what they really feel.

  6. saralustberg permalink
    December 4, 2010 3:19 PM

    I agree with your thoughts on technology as a major enhancement to improved discussion of political theories. Internet programs such as this blog post, are great ways for people to get their thoughts out there and discuss what they find interesting with others who share common interests. I agree with your analyzation of Mill’s attitude towards technology and the continuation of improvements in technology so that people can better understand each other, however I think the relation to Facebook is a little iffy. I don’t think there would be fewer Facbeook breakups if people understood the each other and the world better, due to increased technological enhancement.

  7. December 4, 2010 9:33 PM

    Very interesting and entertaining post. I think you completely captured the purpose of Professor LaVaque-Manty’s blog: us all coming together and creating posts that articulate our opinions and interpretations so that we can all, in turn, learn from one another and those opinions. And that basically characterizes Mill’s point. I always want to know what Mill and the other thinkers we have read would think about our modern world.

  8. yequan permalink
    December 5, 2010 12:17 AM

    Ha, the relationship part on facebook is always attractive><.
    I agree that advanced communication tech has greatly enhanced share of information. Today, a politician or political scientist can easily express his own idea through internet.
    Just like this amazing blog, students and professor share ideas here; it's like a big discussion class, isn't it?

  9. Katelyn Salowitz permalink
    December 5, 2010 2:06 PM

    Well, I agree Mill would have loved the modern use of technology. As mentioned, political theory along with millions of other topics are open to the entire world today via the WorldWideWeb. I think that Mill would have thoroughly enjoyed blogs. With blogs the sharing of information and different viewpoints is endless. As with this blog, different ideas are being conveyed constantly and in this our own ideas can be better constructed and understood throughout the world. Modern technology is Mill’s ideal for an information portal that links people from thousands of miles away together so that they are able to share information and grow from their interactions. Mill may even argue this is what makes life worth living.

  10. jungle12 permalink
    December 5, 2010 4:49 PM

    I would have to agree with you that Mill will support the use of facebook and other internet based programs to help spread ideas and opinions about certain issues. But I think a good question to address is where can one draw the line to express one’s certain opinion. With the internet, people have access to everything (especially since many websites are public), but I believe with all this freedom of speech on the internet I believe it can be harmful too. We can talk about how everyone with a facebook account can see a “friends” relationship. For example if a boy with a girlfriend saw his long time love crush break up with her boyfriend, that boy with the girlfriend would probably want to break up with his girlfriend to be with his long time love. Even though this may not happen often, I believe there is a higher risk cause people can “stalk” each other without knowing. With all the benefits from the internet can result in hurt loved ones.

  11. joshuacy permalink
    December 5, 2010 9:07 PM

    The internet is bad. It makes people ignorant, angry, and stupid. I mean, kids don’t even know how to talk anymore; all they know how to do is text and send email. We’re breeding a generation of tech-savvy, socially inept sperglords. Down with the Internet, down with Mill.

  12. Samantha Eisler permalink
    December 5, 2010 10:07 PM

    I like how you took the concept of relationship via facebook and applies that to political theory and Mill. I definitely agree that Mill would be for the use of facebook as a way to enhance political theory. One thing that made mill different from theorists like Burke was that he believed in innovation and building on previous traditions and ideas. Incorporating facebook into political theory would provide a great way of educating others and fostering ideas through a new light. Well done, I really enjoyed your post!

  13. lrib12 permalink
    December 7, 2010 4:05 PM

    I really love how you talk about this newly popular idea of technology and politics. This blog is a great representation of this as we all get to collectively come together and share out thoughts. As you say we can interact 24/7 from anywhere–something never available before and I am very curious to see how technology is controlled or kept unrestricted for that matter.

  14. arimark91 permalink
    December 8, 2010 1:17 AM

    I agree that facebook is a great way for opinions to be shared, and I think that Mill really would enjoy the social networking site. He believes that opinions should be shared-right or wrong-so that an ultimate truth can be formed. Who knows, maybe facebook will be the place where opinions are debated enough for truths to be formed. Great post!

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