Facebook asks the same question of its users each day: “Do you think we will achieve world peace in the next 50 years?” The company says more than 9 percent of Americans say, “Yes.”
That’s about the same rate for Germans on Facebook. But if you compare Americans to Facebooking Colombians, of whom 39 percent envision peace within 50 years, the picture changes. Americans, who I thought appeared optimists at first blush, appear cynical, depressed even.
Facebook graphs the daily results of its survey, and the results are startling. Isrealis see a greater chance of peace than Americans. So do Egyptians. And Turks. And Taiwanese.
So what’s the deal? I wish I had a solid answer. I don’t, but I think we can fairly assume that the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya have something to do with current American attitudes toward peace. None of those conflicts has proven as easy to extricate the country from as was initially announced. I also wonder how tied this issue is to budget talks.
Facebook wonders how tied the conflicts are to friendships that bridge conflictual divides. Trends in Facebook friendships among Israelis and Palestinians, Indians and Pakistanis, Jews and Muslims and other warring pairs are graphed and counted. Only Facebook could establish almost 67,000 India-Pakistani “friendships” in 24 hours. I hope those links mean as much as Mark Zuckerberg thinks they do.