This blog is part of a series. WTF is social? Using Human Completeness as the core ability of the human brain, we examine various facets of social life and how communication technology and size of social circle, impact our ability to be socially effective.
Man made systems to manage scale of humanity are at odds with the social brain. Keeping these two problems under control: scale of human society and the inability of the human mind to comprehend it, is at the core of most conflicts. Thanks to state, police, constitution, money, etc that some of us can choose to be anti-social and survive. We simply haven't evolved to understand pain in numbers and be humans at this scale. Few thousand years ago, unsocials would have been killed for not being social enough. May be the progress depends on these anti-social ones(at the cost of missing to participate in social), but the survival of the species, the regular maintenance and bridging of differences between each other to make common sense so that we don’t end up killing each other, is the key activity of the most of the humanity and extremely important.
We just can't be human enough to each other at this scale. The advantages of scale are at some point dwarfed by the lack of humanity we experience as we grow the size of our community. We need to learn to find balance between the two and really soon. The story of progress might lead us into places where we have progress, but we are no longer "we".
Human Completeness is an ideal. It is of course incomplete and imperfect. We can never truly know any one else - the state space is simply too large: 100 billion neurone and trillion synapses. Human mind is truly mind boggling. We have this magical ability but it is limited in supply. Its effectiveness depends on the number of people we keep in our social circle. It has worked for millions of years and got us where we have reached. It works only when we have "common knowledge", common in the sense of "shared" and not frequent. As our areas of specialisation diverge and we live in larger and larger societies, we are left with gaps in our common knowledge. These gaps creates fault lines in the completeness of evolutionary social brain, making it dysfunctional at best, unable to compute and understand: what is going on?
Social networking has a cost which is easier to see in the light of limitations of social brain. Freedom to make more relationships comes at the cost of lack of depth and decreasing freedom to express yourself honestly. The larger the network, the higher the stakes. At some point it becomes futile to bridge the gaps and advantageous to burn the bridges with minority opinion. It is no longer Pareto efficient. We just need to find the side with better returns at Nash equilibrium.
We are progressing, we are scaling our social circles, but we are becoming incomplete at being human as well.
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