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]

  • Well, it is quite possible that the general triggers causing happiness/satisfaction etc. in humans haven’t really changed for ages, but the ways of interaction and communication have, meaning that certain phenomena will endanger us and others might make us bloom.

    I don’t think it’s about numbers, but my guess is most of us need a meaningful relationship or three, to survive the rest of them. You simply need some people to know you well enough to take things for natural, not to overreact, not to second guess and whatnot (insert your least favourite neurotic reaction to your persona here). Also, since we are all oh so mobile and the chances there’s someone at the other end of a long flight who’ll react naturally to us might be slim, we could all be encountering problems from time to time.

    Nowadays, you are called an introvert if you consider deep talks or interesting exchanges are well worth your time and effort, whereas chatter, lack of basic attention and communicational multitasking are not … but I wonder. Maybe I am just being honest with me and with life in general 🙂 and this is not introversion at all … And since I also wanted to comment on “hate reading”: I wouldn’t know what to do on a blog full of automatic praise for the owner, full of stereotypes and lacking real personalities. Which is why I don’t do FB but love blogging – there are still enough bloggers out there who really LIKE to SHARE.

  • Lucy Korn

    I don’t know, while I agree that social media encourages endless self promotion and the editing of the ideal self, I feel that we cannot blame technology for our loneliness.

    Maybe it depends on the type of person you are but I think most people are able to have a vast network of ‘friends’ while also holding onto and cultivating real relationships. It’s the people who have blurred those lines (Blurred Lines!) that are the lonely ones.

  • Celine

    When you talked about how we live in a generation where depression is accepted as a chemical imbalance, I know anti-depressants have helped numerous people, but I’ve noticed that a lot of people are prescribed pill to “fix” them. My brother is what many would consider ADHD. My mother chose not to put him on medication, because that’s simply how he is. This use of drugs as teens might make them believe that they can pop a pill and everything will be fine, which might lead to substance abuse later in life, and real depression.
    I went a bit off topic from social media, but I just felt that had to be pointed out… new topic for “let’s talk about it”?