Epistemology, Philosophy, Societal musings

Do people really need human connection?

The typical argument given for people needing human connection is that we have evolved to need human connection. We are wired to want human connection. Perhaps babies are wired to want human connection before they can actually start thinking, reasoning and being creative to a larger degree.

But for the rest of us, does it make a difference if we have evolved to want human connection or not? Aren’t we constantly doing things outside of what we are “evolutionary wired to do.” We are evolutionary wired to live in forests, but most of us live under concrete brick walls. We are evolutionary wired to only eat nuts and berries and fish, but we eat pizzas and burgers. We are evolutionary wired to not use technology but almost all of us have phones and computers.

And the biggest one – we are evolutionary wired to pass on our genes but some of us choose not to have kids.

Humans are constantly creating, ideating, and doing things outside of what evolutionary biology dictates. We come up with reasons and ideas that make it plausible for us to do so. David Deutsch highlights this point in his book Beginning of Infinity and in his interview with Tyler Cowen.

Having laid this out, let’s revisit the question in my title – do we really need human connection? There is this fear around robot sex dolls (which in fact, I’ve written about before), and technology replacing human connection which is supposedly not going to be good for humanity. Is it really the case that it won’t be good for humanity?

What if we come up with reasons and explanations that make us okay with not wanting human connection? What if we come up with reasons that make us want to interact less with other humans? And indeed, there are cultures that are more individualistic (and have been for a long time). It is quite possible that we come up with explanations that make us want to only interact with our computers. Perhaps children playing video games already do this. Now, the reasons and explanations we come up with for not wanting human connection (and apparently going against evolution) may not be good explanations, but they could still drive our behavior towards less human connection.

And what if these explanations don’t indicate how less social connection will be bad for humanity? It may be the case that less human connection doesn’t in fact have “detrimental” consequences such as loneliness or depression. In all those studies that say lack of social connection is causing depression, could it be the case that it’s not lack of social connection, but it’s eating unhealthy food or something more bizarre like not being considered attractive by your peers? Perhaps it could be. I say this because I’m not sure if the studies that claim that lack of social connection causes depression give explanations that are not hard to vary. Depression could be the result of other reasons not accounted for. But maybe I need to look more into those studies.

Look, I don’t know the answer to my question(s). I’m just conjecturing and laying out my thoughts. But I do think there is no settled science or objective truth on whether humans (outside of babies) absolutely need other human connection. Or at least I don’t know of a good explanation that makes me believe so. Give me one and I could change my mind. Please feel free to criticize my thinking so I can improve upon it.

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P.S. Btw, I like human connection and I want it. But my point is I’m not sure if we “need” it and if there are negative consequences without it.

NYC, Personality types, Societal musings

Retaining your Individuality (An Introvert in NYC)

Susan turned on the heat and immediately heard the faint hissing sound of the air seeping through the vent. The stillness in the apartment was juxtaposed by the cacophony on the streets of Times Square, where her apartment building stood. The muffled sound of the heat and the ticking of the clock was only broken by my fidgeting on the couch. She attempted to write but her evil brain won the debate and she sprang up to grab a bar of chocolate. It had been a long week at work and surely she could treat herself on a Friday. Through previous mistakes, Susan had learned not to make plans on Fridays. As the work week drew to a close, she could sense the energy seeping out of her, just like the chocolate melting through her fingers currently.


An introvert, Susan preferred to stay at home and read over shouting in loud bars in New York. Besides, she was never cool enough to be socially comfortable and it was only on high-energy days that she could be merely average. She was the type to eat healthy (salads), workout, meditate, take interest in neuroscience, go on long runs, and have deep and nerdy conversations. In short, she was the ultimate definition of a party-pooper. However, Susan was charmingly affectionate and despite or perhaps because of these dorkish qualities, most people liked her.

The most admirable quality in Susan was that she was always her authentic self and retained her individuality.

Philosophy, Societal musings

Where Did Open Debate Go? (ft. Ayn Rand)

Where did open debate and discussion vanish? We now seem to live in a society where it’s difficult to openly talk about “controversial” or “sensitive” topics. Ayn Rand is a good example where a lot of people automatically dismiss her writing just at the mention of her name. People simply associate it with dislike and are not willing to engage in a deeper conversation and truly understand her philosophy. Even if we do not agree with her philosophy, why is there so much hesitation to even talk about it?

Cancel culture has overtaken society and polarization has increased. 

It’s okay to have divergent viewpoints. In fact, if everyone thought the same way, we’d live in a homogenous bubble and creativity and innovation would be stifled.

Sure, there might be some objectivity to a lot of viewpoints but if we don’t even discuss them in a healthy manner, we shall never arrive at the objective answer.

I hope we can once again begin to have healthy discussions and debates with people who do not share our viewpoints.

Note: This post has been adapted from the original post on my other site Live Longer World.

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Societal musings

1984 and Brave New World Revisited

In the foreword to Neil Postman’s highly relevant and rigorously constructed tome Amusing Ourselves to Death, Adam Postman argues that it’s not the Orwellian prophecy, but the Huxleyian prophecy that rang true. He writes, “Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity, and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore their technologies that undo their capacities to think.”

While this is largely true, I argue that both prophecies have come true. To see this, we need to recognize “Big Brother” in the context of the modern world. In the age of capitalism where the government has failed to solve the problems plaguing society, large corporations (mostly tech firms) have stepped in to fill the void. Much like the government, these tech firms promise consumers an easier life with minimal friction. Tech behemoths such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple have come to occupy the role of Big Brother in Orwell’s world and often times deprive us of our “autonomy, maturity and history.” By hijacking our attention spans and brain space, they have struck at the epicenter of all reason and deprived us of our “capacities to think.”

But it’s not just external oppression. People too have come to love these technologies that numb their minds, thereby validating Huxley’s prophecy.

In other words, the “oppression” and “technologies” that Huxley refers to is modern day “Big Brother” or the “externally imposed oppression” as posited by Orwell.

“We have indeed been overcome by an externally imposed oppression by being slaves to our technologies but alas we have come to love their oppression in this age of no reason.” (Thomas Paine)

Societal musings

Biased Impressions and Energy Management

A work colleague mentioned “This bank presentation has the page numbers wrong on the table of contents. They can’t even do the little things right, can I trust them on the content?”

This is the typical way people judge other people’s work. For example, if your formatting does not look right, they may assume your work is wrong and start analyzing your work with a negative bias attached to their impressions. If you do not speak in a polished way, they will not pay attention to your content. If you are not dressed for the role, they will assume you are not the correct person for it.

But let’s analyze such behavior from the opposite lens.

Perhaps because you focus a lot on the difficult and important things that actually matter, you have no energy left to care about the mundane boring tasks such as getting page numbers correct? What if, because I have spent so much time and mental energy on the rationale of the points I want to articulate that I didn’t get a chance to think about the best ways to present my content? Something like this is pretty noticeable in a lot of smart people who spend so much time on the difficult work, that they don’t bother to care about their appearance. 

The other day a friend asked me this question, “Why am I good at tasks considered to be difficult and so bad at tasks that are considered easy?” It’s likely that my friend has no energy left to care for these easy tasks, which require less mental focus, and hence makes it easy to get distracted. After focusing on activities that require thinking, it is indeed boring to dedicate even a few minutes to menial tasks that don’t require much thinking.

So if you notice that someone got the little things wrong, might the content / underlying substance actually be very impressive? This hypothesis may or may not hold true, but all I’m saying is that forming your impressions based on the superficial matter is not correct. I do think presentation matters a lot, and it cannot be ignored completely at the expense of stellar content. It’s just not the first and only thing that matters. It should always (or in most situations) come after content / underlying work / underlying character.