Planet of the Apps

Did you know that monkeys prefer to socialize in groups that range on average from 20 to 50 monkey friends? As for us humans — our preferred number is around 150. When both of those groups’ numbers rise above the “comfortable” level, the social order crumbles.

Now think about how many Facebook friends you have. It’s probably more than 150, I’d bet. What follows, per the video below, is that our generation’s much-proposed unhappiness and loneliness are due in large part to the very devices that are intended to connect us. All our Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming and other verbed-nouns have fabricated a society around us where we can feel simultaneously popular (Woo! Another follower!) and yet very, very alone.

It’s not that we haven’t heard all of this before. We just recently posted about Louis C.K.’s similar hypothesis on the subject, and it seems as though the general media isn’t going to stop anytime soon until iPhones are either eradicated or we all end up on depression medication. I just recently had a conversation with a friend who said he was worried about our own generation for this very reason — and I hate to tell you this but I had to pause him mid-sentence to make sure my text to another friend actually went through.

We’re lucky, in a way, that we get to live in an era where emotions are not only considered but are studied and therefore remedied (i.e., depression is accepted as a chemical imbalance that can be treated whereas back in our grandparents’ day, they were told to “buck up” — a revelation that has saved many). I can’t help but wonder, however, if all this talk about our sad little generation is going to become so over-discussed that we turn the whole thing into one self-fulfilling prophecy.

Still, it can’t hurt to educate ourselves on the topic. If social media and its unsocial tendencies are currently going nowhere, then we should arm ourselves with as much information as possible to face the technologically-charged demons head on.

And then, after we’ve consumed all that we can, we’ll go outside, meet up with a friend, and put our phones away.


[The Innovation of Loneliness]