The nature of humanity is such that emotional states like happiness and contentment are highly correlated with social bonds. And this is not surprising as humanity’s success in the game of Evolution was largely due to their ability to form social bonds, an ability that massively increased their collective effeciency as a species.
But with the advent of internet, humans are able to reach some of the these positive emotions without the need to form these bonds with people in the real world. Virtual ecosystems like Twitter and Facebook consist of right kind of ingredients that a social specie like Homo Sapiens needs in order to satiate the appetite of their social brains. Humanity’s one of the most stressful experiences includes the feeling of loneliness and one wonders to what degree these online ecosystems have decreased the occurence of that experience.
One interesting aspect of this form of social bonding is that it removes the need to deal with disagreements adequately that some humans may have with others. A non-virtual confrontation or an argument forces the players to be more respectful of the opponent or at least take some effort to try and understand opposing arguments. Not so in virtual ecosystems. Disappearance of the requirement to face the other side (literally!) alleviates the burden to engage in unlikeable ideas. Humans can simply form multiple “bubbles” consisting of likeable ideas instead. Bubbles, inside which, every human agrees with each other on ideas that matter to each one of them. Any outsider is either ignored or is mercilessly thrown out of the bubble.
This increases inter-bubble animosity. The infamous tribal behavior of humans is at its full display albeit through a completely different medium than the one where biological evolution played out. If one where to ignore real world human interactions and assess the mental nature of this species based solely only on its interactions online, it would seem that humans pride themselves in being loud and hateful in their disagreements. Sticking to a position and being fearful of changing mind over cherished beliefs is considered a useful behavior. And it is useful. Useful in terms of the resulting increase in the strength of the tribe’s bubble. Statements like “I don’t know” or “I am not sure” are rarely witnessed in the virtual universe even though humans use them quite often in the real world.
What could go wrong with all of this? Maybe humanity is just learning how to deal with this new universe that it suddenly finds itself in. Mistakes are inevitable. Perhaps, in few decades, this wonderful species will have learnt enough from these behaviors to not commit some of those mistakes again. Perhaps, they will integrate the lessons from the negative outcomes in their education systems to better prepare the future generations for socializing over this virtual universe.
Or perhaps, humanity will continue strengthening these bubbles. With virtual reality (VR) on the horizon, these bubbles can eventually become multiple small universes that need not interact with other universes. Animosity or hatred towards the other group surfaces only if one has to listen to outsiders on regular basis. VR may dissolve that interaction by providing us with exactly the universe that we yearn for, brilliantly protecting us from any possible dissenting idea.
Of course, since humans can always find something to disagree with or dislike others on, these small universes will eventually become smaller. Ironically, this will lead to increase in loneliness as more and more humans will find fewer and fewer similar thinking humans to form a virtual universe with. Advancements in Artifical intelligence would be the only source of alleviating that loneliness as it would be easy to create copies of one’s own thinking.
It will be quite entertaining for our species to witness their fate. Good luck humanity. You need a lot of it.