Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Is Morality Against Having Fun?

Is morality anti-fun?

I had intended to write a post on social responsibility in social media. A large portion of what I am seeing recently on my Facebook page are malicious falsehoods. These fictions aim to inflict harm on real people, and to manipulate the attitudes of others - to promote hate based on fictions. Currently, they mostly target social and economic groups as well as political candidates. At other times, the dominant postings target religious groups.

I will leave it an open question as to whether the malicious posters are liars or simply reckless. Neither option is morally neutral or praiseworthy.

Then I imagined somebody claiming that the problem with morality is that it condemns anything fun. There is a certain entertainment value in spreading malicious fictions around the Internet. We cannot all be serious all the time. What is wrong with having a little fun?

Is morality the antithesis of fun?

Some people enjoy maliciously harmful behavior. Such a person may see moral criticism of malicious bullying and the like as robbing life of that which makes it fun. Enjoyment counts for something.

But what about the rest of us the population - those that are moral? (Not that this is an either/or proposition).

On this model, those who are moral are cast as miserable people denying themselves the pleasures of maliciously harmful behavior because morality demands it. A person can be immoral and happy and have fun, or moral and miserable and denying themselves that which is fun.

This may be how the vicious person wants to see things, but there is another option.

The difference between a vicious and a virtuous person is not that the former has fun and the latter do not. It is that the former has fun maliciously harming others, while the latter has fun helping and improving the lives of others.

Morality is not the antithesis of fun. Morality is an alternative way of having fun.

More to the point, it is a way of having fun that people generally have reason to promote. People have many and strong reasons to praise those who enjoy helping others and encouraging people to take that route, and to condemn those who are vicious while urging people to avoid that option.

For the vicious person - for the person who actually gets his pleasures from maliciously harmful behavior - such as the spreading of malicious falsehoods about individuals and groups in social media - morality does take some of the fun out of life.

As well it should.

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