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“Poke” Me

Written by September 30, 2010

Facebook – The Universal Language of Mankind

Famed 19th century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote: "Music is the universal language of mankind.” And indeed, many would agree. Wherever it may originate, all music consists of only seven core notes. And, no matter what part of the world one is in or what instrument is playing, the melody emanating is composed from those notes alone.  

Music seems to transcend all cultural differences and reach us at our core.  It is not only something we hear – it is something we feel. A 2009 study published in Current Biology  indicated that Native Africans who had never so much as listened to a radio could still distinguish between happy, sad, and fearful emotions in Western music. The results, the researchers said, showed that the expression of these basic emotions can be universally recognized in music. The findings could also explain the popularity of Western music across the globe, the researchers noted — even in cultures that do not share our emphasis on emotional expression in music. 

Aldous Huxley once said: “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Shakespeare wrote, "If music be the food of life, play on." (Twelfth Night – 1601)  Music may indeed be the universal language of mankind. These days, however, there seems to be a whole other medium of communication rapidly infusing the globe — one whose unfathomable rate of expansion seems to suggest it could soon become a universal language of its own — Facebook.

Every month 400 million people log onto their Facebook profile at least once.  Some data indicates that as many as 50% of members are on the site every single day. This is not just an American phenomenon, however. Facebook is a worldwide sensation.

70% of Facebook users live outside of the United States. The site is available in seventy different languages. Half of the country of Denmark has an active profile on Facebook (2,421,380 out of a population of 5,484,723.)  In some circles the “Poke,” “Like,” and “Tag” lingo is as recognizable as “Do, Re, Mi.”  Looking at its exponential growth and global coverage, one could start to wonder whether Facebook is fast becoming the next universal language.

But what happens when two immensely popular mediums such as music and Facebook collide?  The Facebook flood seems to have surged beyond the confines of the internet and spilled into the universe of pop-music as well. And the new mix is nothing short of amazing. To give you an idea, here are some pretty awesome music videos out of France and Turkey that reflect the magnitude of the Facebook trend and reveal what happens when two universal cultural phenomena smash together.  We here at Spokeo think these videos are pretty darn cool.

1 Universal Recognition of Three Basic Emotions in Music.14 April 2009, Current Biology 19(7) pp. 573 – 576. Authors: Thomas Fritz, Sebastian Jentschke, Nathalie Gosselin, Daniela Sammler, Isabelle Peretz, Robert Turner, Angela D. Friederici, Stefan Koelsch



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