The Social Nature of Humanity

We all get hit with a bout of nostalgia every now and then as we remember and reminisce at the halcyon days of yore. Yet as human beings, I don’t think that our nature can allow us to ponder these things for long without thinking forward at what is to come. Obviously, we are finite creatures and will one day perish, not only as individuals, but also as a part of the collective identity of humanity. It is indeed a disturbing thought, however we must realize the beauty in the ephemeral. The fact that things wilt and weather makes them all the more precious.

As much as I love delving deep into philosophical discussion, it’s just as important to consider the implications of what goes on at the surface of human life. We are by nature social creatures and crave contact with others. Coupled with the fact that we love being in the company of others who share our opinions, the rise of social media was inevitable. It allows us to connect with an immense number of people who are just like us. These groups are commonly referred to as “echo chambers,” where our opinions, whether correct or not, are amplified. These are essential for advertisers looking to make a meaningful impact, but are even more useful when spreading ideologies. Politicians and news organizations constantly tap into social media to influence the beliefs of people all over the country. What I think is particularly dangerous about this is the degree to which social media has infiltrated the opinions of uneducated people. It is essential to the function of the country that we elect competent politicians. When poorly educated and highly opinionated people are responsible, the results cannot be good. When one company is able to use its algorithms to control the influx of news to the population, when they show more conservative news to right wing voters and more liberal news to left wing voters, the echoes are further amplified. Today’s political scene is the most partisan since World War I started in the early twentieth century. Rather than spreading people apart, it is our duty to bring them together, to unify the public into one cohesive America.

I recently read Eugene Wei’s excellent (although I may say, quite lengthy) post about the fundamental nature of humans — that of status seeking monkeys. His theory of why people use social media is really able to explain why some networks succeed while others don’t, and why the demographics of each are the way that they are.

Dossier

“Status as a Service (StaaS),” by Eugene Wei, February 19, 2019. https://www.eugenewei.com/blog/201—9/2/19/status-as-a-serviceThis lengthy blog post goes in depth into the rise of social media and how it adapts to our fundamental being as “status seeking monkeys.”

Are Humans the Ultimate Truth?

When I was in the eighth grade, my teacher had a poster stuck on the wall that explained the meaning of happiness. I believe (though I am not fully sure) that the quote was from Johnny Cash.

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me that I didn’t understand the assignment, but I told them that they didn’t understand life.

Johnny Cash

This quote really got me thinking about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Of course, we already know that the answer is 42, according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But in all seriousness, I have struggled to find an adequate response to that question. Scientifically speaking, we are no different than any other creatures, or even inanimate material for that matter (pun intended). As a result, I find it quite surprising when people claim that humans were created to spread good throughout the universe. With regard to religion, there are many truths that are evident in unconventional places. Modern religion is highly monotheistic and speaks of a God that cares deeply for the welfare of the human world. Yet there is still evil in the world. In Hinduism, for example, there are a multitude of gods that, just like those of the Greeks, treat humanity like pawns on a chessboard. As a result, it is to these gods that Hindus pray, asking for protection and other favors. On top of all of this is the fundamental being of existence, the Brahman. No one ever prays to him, nor are there any temples built to honor him. The reason for this is that the Brahman is so fundamental that he does not care for humanity nor for the universe. Whatever happens in the universe is completely irrelevant. Why is it that in monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, that God is so concerned with humanity? In the grand scheme of things, we are absolutely nothing. This is question that really has no simple answer, yet it warrants a discussion between all of the faiths.