The Social Brain
Once upon a time, we had our close group of family, friends, peers and work colleagues, that we called our social network. Now, we are all connected to as many people as we possibly can, like never before in the history of our species.
The human brain is designed to maintain approximately 150 stable social networks. This is called Dunbarâs number. This is where you brain knows the person and how each person relates to every other person.
However, in these hyper connected times, which we are propelling forward faster and faster in, we are connected to a whole lot more than 150 people.
Think about your immediate family, then your second cousins, then their immediate families, then your work colleagues, then your immediate friends, then your school friends, then your special interest friends ... the list goes on. Most of us will have already bridged the 150 mark just thinking about the above.
This is where the need for online social networking comes in.
Humans have built technologies like computers and the internet to record and store information. Online social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have come along at the perfect time where we need to outsource this part of our brain to the internet to hold this information for us.
Online Social Networking has given us many advantages, and we are now so accustomed to it, that if it were to disappear tomorrow, our lives would be in disarray.
We are use to having this information delivered to us at such rapid speeds, with no limits on distance that we feel utterly disconnected when we donât receive our âhitâ of what has happened online.
From organised events, to photo sharing, our digital opinions about brands, products and services to the simply checking in on how our friends and family members are, without the need to speak to anyone.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Are Social Networks destroying real life interactions, or enhancing them?
Many would argue it is bad, because the human interaction we all crave is starting to fade. Whilst less face to face interaction may occur in certain aspects of our lives, does this really have to be labelled as a negative to our social brains?
Remember, we have now shifted our social brain online, outsourcing this once limited computing power of the human body, to the infinite collective thought of everyone connected to the internet.
We now organise charities, raise awareness and build engaging relationships with people whom we were previously unable to access, all in the search for social good.
We now share our lives, stories and news with the world in a way that humans are now regaining power from governments to become a more humane society. We have witnessed these events through the power of social networks radiating away from several Arab nations.
We now assess our brands, products and services not from greedy corporations whom have a message delivered to us in advertising with their profits in mind, but rather we source our peer reviewed content about these brands and products. Our Social Networks have shifted the power to the consumer.
We are now able to stay in touch with more than our 150 social relationships with such a high quality of detail, which we no longer need to worry about distance as a barrier to this connection. Instead, we now follow, interact, reach out and influence those whom are of most interest to us.
The human social brain didnât stop growing in our bodies because we our brains stopped growing. We built Online Social Networks to allow our species to maintain its lead on the rapidly changing and driving technologies we created and evolved.
Therefore, Online Social Networking has brought many great advantages to our species. It has helped us rapidly advance well ahead by maintaining our greater power of knowledge over our social relationships and allowed our brains the capacity to compute our daily activities, which come with living in a social world.
Welcome to the next stage of human evolution. The internet and our Social Networks are now an extension of our human brains.