Through the advancement of technology, the Internet has emerged as a predominant mode of communication. Social networks in particular have recently redefined the way in which individuals communicate with each other. Socially interactive technologies, such as Facebook, allow for the ability to communicate with peers with increased ease and efficiency. Facebook, created in February 2004 by Harvard undergraduate student Mark Zuckerberg, has developed into the most widely used social networking site (Sheldon 2008, 67). By 2008, ninety-three percent of American post-secondary students had joined the Facebook community (Ibid). On average, Facebook users spend forty-seven minutes per day interacting with their peers via social networking (Ibid), and thus, Facebook substantially impacts the way in which individuals form and engage in friendships. These virtual friendships, especially those based solely on social networks, possess little resemblance to those relationships explained in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. This text is separated into ten books, each offering Aristotle's stance on ethical behaviour. Book VIII is devoted to the act of philia, or friendship, and categorizes friendship into three different classifications.
The first two are friendships derived from utility or pleasure. Aristotle explains that these friendships are brief as an individual's needs and desires are apt to undergo change through the progression of time. (Aristotle 1999, 129). The third type of friendship, however, is of greater substance as it is based on goodness and the mutual virtue of the two participants. Due to the limitations that Facebook presents, friendships based predominately on social networks cannot achieve the highest virtue of friendship as described in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.
[...] The term social network in itself possesses vocational connotations, as the act of networking is associated with business practices. Literary critic and author William Deresiewicz explains, “They call them social-networking sites for a reason. Networking once meant something specific: climbing the jungle gym of professional contacts in order to advance your career” (2009). Thus, the primary purpose of social network sites such as Facebook, is to increase the quantity of contacts in an attempt to solidify one's social standing and create connections that may become useful in the future. [...]
[...] This raises the question of whether Facebook “friends” are authentic companions. Facebook contacts are given the term friend, founded on the assumption that individuals limit their online interactions to include only their close acquaintances. However, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in May 2012, concluded that on average, Facebook members have 229 friends, only five percent of which they communicate with on a regular basis. As Deresiewicz hypothesizes, we have 768 ‘friends', in what sense do we have (2009). [...]
[...] Facebook's Degradation of Virtuous Philia as Described in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics Introduction: Through the advancement of technology, the Internet has emerged as a predominant mode of communication. Social networks in particular have recently redefined the way in which individuals communicate with each other. Socially interactive technologies, such as Facebook, allow for the ability to communicate with peers with increased ease and efficiency. Facebook, created in February 2004 by Harvard undergraduate student Mark Zuckerberg, has developed into the most widely used social networking site (Sheldon 2008, 67). [...]
[...] Therefore, relationships formed through Facebook do not possess the ability to transcend into the highest realm of friendship. Quantity versus Quality: Accumulating a vast amount of Facebook contacts has recently become one of the predominant goals of social networking. Although Aristotle states that “having many friends seems to be a fine thing” (2009, 127), he undoubtedly was not considering several hundred, or even thousands of online friends, to qualify within the realm of Although Facebook allows individuals to interact with their peers on an expansive level, and enables users to transcend the limits of distance and body, the accumulation of a immense quantity of friends does not allow for the amount of dedication that is required to achieve the highest level of friendship as described by Aristotle. [...]
[...] when they are in a good mood, not stressed, able to be private and so on. The result of this is that virtual interaction, by being subject to control, is too restricted and unlikely to bring about [philia] as defined in the NE (2012, 204). Meaningful conservation is often void within Internet interactions, being reduced to trivial conservations and therefore, authentic friendships cannot be achieved. Limits are even placed on the amount of characters used in a wall post or comment section within the Facebook sphere. [...]
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