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Psychology | The Social Animal


We humans are the social animal and have been since our days as cave dwellers. There is safety in numbers and although we may like to wander off into the woods alone at times; we feel more secure together. A lot of our feelings are controlled by primitive thoughts as we stare into an open fire or look into the flame of a candle.

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We like to join clubs and form societies. We like to come together for parties, reunions, the family get together and Christmas. We are basically insecure and we need each other. In the UK more and more people are living alone, but it isn’t by choice. We seem to have become more fussy about who we do live with and there is a desire to find someone absolutely fabulous; just like on the television.  Maybe, this quest for perfection has driven up the divorce rate? It appears to be desirable to have excitement in your life, all the time; just like in the soaps. Why can’t we all be like celebrities and live the easy and exciting life? I suppose we can dress like them and have blond hair and pretend to have less than average intelligence. We can make them part of our lives, just sit down with some nibbles, a drink and watch them on the box in the corner for an evening. We can occasionally go out and pretend to be like them; put on our best designer gear and go to a club or pub and pretend to be someone else for an evening.

Our desire to be accepted and social appears to be catered for now with social media. We can be sociable online without actually having to get a round of drinks in or meet people. There is LinkedIn for ‘professional’ people and whole host of networks for everyone else. The main one is Facebook of course who have recently introduced the Timeline. Yes, now our lives will be recorded as a timeline and we can share our most intimate moments with the world. I will tell the world what I have done this week in words and pictures on Facebook. Even blogging like this is part of 21st century interactive; I’m being social.  I offer information and a social experience. In the caveman days I would have gone out hunting and brought back food, but at least I am catering to a need. We all have emotional needs as well as the need for food and shelter. Many of those needs are met by the things we buy in the shops, nice food, nice clothes and we can even feel good about ourselves by driving a nice car.

It is all getting a bit impersonal though isn’t it? We don’t actually have to meet each other any more. Is this why all the great British pubs are disappearing? Why there are few clubs left anymore? What can we do to help people actually have contact with each other and communicate? We need places for them to meet and a reason to go there. I suppose we could open community centres? How about garden clubs on allotment sites? I saw a snooker club the other day; I didn’t know there was one. Maybe we could use schools more and people could go in the evenings to interact with one another. They did may years ago. They could have ‘meet a Facebook friend’ night?

In America, I am told, you can join a ‘tribe’; people with similar interests. People are mostly encouraged to compete in the modern world. We call it a rat race and it’s dog eat dog. People do find it hard to be cooperative. They seem to need a set of rules in order to work together. In Parliament they have rules like that, they aren’t allowed to insult each other or call each other a liar. Order is kept and standards of behaviour are enforced by the Speaker. Maybe we need new rules and someone to keep order, but where? We definitely need new community hubs where people of all ages can meet to collaborate on new community ventures. Perhaps, if I wrote a book on etiquette and good manners in the 21st Century, it would help?

It will probably never work. Do you have any ideas how we can make people more cooperative and get them being nice to one another. Christmas doesn’t seem to work.

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3 responses

  1. Very insightful. I never really look at it this way :) Thanks!

    28, December 2011 at 12:23 pm

  2. Hi Eryn,

    Thanks for visiting, The psychology blogs always seem popular, I should write more.

    28, December 2011 at 1:10 pm

  3. Pingback: Book: The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement | jameskennedybeijing

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