Emma Dunne – The Social Media Situation
It is fair to say that everyone wants ‘The Good Life’, but many of us cannot define what it is. Is it fulfilment, happiness, or a sense of purpose? And how do we achieve it? Nowadays, much of our lives are lived online. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Yik Yak, we are caught up in a false reality, ignoring the real world for a virtual one. It can be absorbing – just think about how many times you check your phone in the day. That said, what are we really getting out of them? Getting likes and up votes may give you momentary happiness, maybe even a day of happiness and bragging rights if you get a hot yak, but is it really fulfilling?
Think about reading week (if you were lucky enough to have one). At the station there were hundreds of freshers getting on trains and leaving Exeter. We’ll all soon be heading back again for the holidays. To make that effort says something about what we really value. Home.
home is where the heart is
They say that ‘home is where the heart is’, and although some of us may not want to believe it, it is true. Family will always be there, and online popularity will not. Take the recent example of the Australian Instagram star Essena O’Neill, who recently quit the site after saying that it was “unhealthy” and “left her feeling empty and addicted to social media likes”. Many people in the online world are superficial, quickly moving on from one thing to the next. In the real world, however, there is more consistency. Friends and family do not move on in the same way our online followers do. They are there to give us support when nobody else does, and seeing them gives us much more happiness than a ‘like’. So if we define ‘the good life’ as a life filled with happiness, then surely friends and family are the key?
Theodore Stone – Economy and the Good Life
Within a capitalist society, money is necessary for a standard of living that could be classified as ‘good’. As such, if one wishes to live a ‘good life’, one must look at how one’s finances are distributed, as well as how much one is earning. It is obvious that there are those who are happier than others simply because one is earning more than the other. So what implications does the economy have on living a ‘good life’?
The philosopher Aristotle asserted there are two kinds of income. One of these is the ‘Natural Kind’, and the other is the ‘Unnatural Kind’. The former is where you earn just enough to sustain a good way of life. The latter is where you continue to want more and more, where one’s greed begins to inflate beyond its capacity. At the end of the day, you only need so many vineyards.
Studies have found that a happy life requires a salary of around £50,000. In light of this, it might follow that an unconditional citizen’s income, as advocated by many economists and the Green Party, could be the answer to achieving the good life. A certain degree of funding would allow one to experience a wider range of leisure activities, both inside and outside the workplace, thereby allowing them greater space to develop as an individual. Leisure in this case is closer to writing a novel than to watching Netflix. Leisure constitutes activities of self-building, as opposed to binging.
An unconditional citizen’s income could be the answer to achieving the Good Life
Some economists, such as John Maynard Keynes and his followers, have asserted that a reduction in working hours, in line with the increase in income, would allow one to partake in an increased number of leisure activities. One would be able to write a better novel, if that pleased them, if they had more time for said activity, owing to the increase in the amount of time given over to practice, thus allowing for greater self-fulfilment. The same can be said about learning an instrument, or riding a horse.
Likewise, if one had more time for leisure, one could take a greater role in public life, thus allowing for a more democratised society, brought on by the increase in interest granted by a society with greater freedom from the workplace. In turn, this could lead to a political programme that would be closer to the wills of the people, in turn allowing for the creation a more eudaemonic society, a society where one could follow their dreams, instead of being chained to an office cubicle.