So much for the joys of Rugged Individualism and Family Values

Oh, conservatards, I feel so sorry for you…science has just pwned you yet again:

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego have found that “happiness” is not the result solely of a cloistered journey filled with individually tailored self-help techniques. Happiness is also a collective phenomenon that spreads through social networks like an emotional contagion.

In a study that looked at the happiness of nearly 5000 individuals over a period of twenty years, researchers found that when an individual becomes happy, the network effect can be measured up to three degrees. One person’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only their friends, but their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends. The effect lasts for up to one year.

The flip side, interestingly, is not the case: Sadness does not spread through social networks as robustly as happiness. Happiness appears to love company more so than misery.

“We’ve found that your emotional state may depend on the emotional experiences of people you don’t even know, who are two to three degrees removed from you,” says Harvard Medical School professor Nicholas Christakis, who, along with James Fowler from the University of California, San Diego co-authored this study. “And the effect isn’t just fleeting.”

Astonishingly, money has nothing to do with this, and neither does the trickle-down theory of economics.

And neither, more astonishingly yet, do “family values”–friends, rather than family, are the real happiness-makers, it seems. (Stands to reason: you get to pick your friends. Your family? ‘Nother story.)

Now, when do you suppose science will get around to analyzing the happiness that comes to do with having not only a strong social network, but a stronger social safety net? That might just explain Venezuela, might it not? (I know that if Chavecito were MY head-of-state, I’d be pretty damn pleased…)

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3 Responses to So much for the joys of Rugged Individualism and Family Values

  1. Slave Revolt says:

    Bina, interestingly, the US ‘depression’ will be much more difficult to navigate than in nations that have a strong safety net.
    Amazingly, the idea of destroying social solidarity and allowing corporate greed to run rampant–this set up the basis for the economic collapse.
    Now elites can’t figure out how to get out of this crisis, because they really hate the medicine.
    Super exploitation of the working class and imperialist adventures abroad are part of the disease we are suffering. But you will not see the obvious pointed out in the mainstream.
    For decades consumerism filled in the social void. They drove down wages, allowed the slaves to accrue credit to fill in the gap of loss in value of real wages, they pumped up the housing bubble to allow the worker bees to hyper-leverage their homes—now it all comes crashing down and they try to deflect responsiblity onto labor unions, or efforts to allow lower income people to obtain a mortgage.
    Bina, more, I am very dissatisfied with the liberal-progressive-Obama wing of US politics. They also seem incapable of ‘naming’ the multiple causes of this crisis. Indeed, they are connected to corporate crapitalism–they will not bite too hard the hand that feeds them. More than likely they will engage a playful nip–but it’s not the same as a bite.
    This is the beginning of a social crisis that has its roots in a diseased, rapacious, imperialist, nature-raping ideology.
    Caring about one another, developing productive work, and becoming more healthy–these are the rudiments toward healing the current problems. But without developing a strong safety net, the disease will linger.
    What is clear is that the capitalist ruling classes have utterly failed. I am just a bit discouraged that left-progressives are not presenting ‘work-to-be-done’ ideas in the face of this failure.
    As scary as all this is–left-populists have been predicting this for decades. Now is the time to move forward with viable, healthy alternatives.

  2. JimBobby says:

    Whooee! My ol’ Pappy never went to Harvard or to any other university but he coulda told ’em that like he told me when I was just a wee lad.
    “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone.”
    I think I was about 7 when Dad gimme that advice. That’d be 52 years ago. The eggheads spent whoknowshowmuch money and 20 years to come up with what everybuddy’s known since Aesop an’ Ben Franklin.

  3. Heydee ho, JimBobby, welcome aboard…and how ’bout that Tommy Douglas social gospel, eh? Hahvud, schmahvud–it’s all just confirmanation of what we already know out here in Hicksville, Ontariariario. The little guy with the idee was smarter than all them-thar bankers and economomists combined…
    And Slave, you’re right…there’s a lot of timidity still, south of the border. They still hope–vainly–that “the market” will take care of them. Instead of realizing that there’s a kind of socialism built right into their own constitution, and building on that. It starts, appropriately enough, with “We the People”. Looky there, that’s POPULIST! And look at all those other socialist, collectivist phrases: “provide for the common defence”, “promote the general welfare”, “ensure domestic tranquility”, etc. Only when the common interest gets taken care of, by We the People, does the pursuit of happiness kick in. ‘Course, by then, you’re well on the road to it anyway, because at least half of happiness is making sure that those basic needs at the bottom of Maslow’s old hierarchy are taken care of. I know that I used to sleep a lot better at night as a kid, when hydro wasn’t privatized, when water (a public service) was still cheap, when hospitals weren’t out-contracting their janitorial services (so flesh-eating diseases were never heard of), and when I wasn’t worrying about the markets blowing bubbles that go pop, pop, pop…

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