A Social Species or a Connected Species?

Source: http://mattdaviescartoon.com/2012/05/16/human-evolution/

Tom Uytterhoeven

Last week, the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT) held its biannual conference, on the theme "Do Emotions Shape the World?" One of the keynote speakers was Jonas Kjellstrand from the SAS institute. He presented a fascinating perspective on the impact social media is having on human relations. One of the elements that I took home from his talk was the observation that we turn to social media to ask for advice, which Kjellstrand compared with asking complete strangers for help. That points, he argued, to one of the key challenges to our growing reliance on technology to communicate with other human beings: the question of trust. Although he gave some attention to possible abuse of social media - e.g. showing live how tweets can be analysed and turned into 'big data' - Jonas's speech overall gave a quite optimistic impression. During the Q & A, that optimism provoked someone to ask (I am parafrazing here) whether social media is really connecting humans, or rather dehumanising communication. Personally, I'm inclined to think the former is true. But the danger of the latter should certainly be acknowledged, as this short video shows.