Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cheap Theory #1 - Social Networking Obesity

Cheap Theory #1 - Social Networking Obesity

Today, the first world is suffering an endemic of obesity.  The problem is that our bodies have been designed to survive in situations of food scarcity.  So we are hardwired to want to consume fats and sugars without limit and our bodies store them for long periods of time rather than burn it.  This is good when you only are able to get your hands on fatty foods in rare times of plenty.  However, our modern industrial society now manufactures these foods to such an extent that one actually has to be rich to avoid them.  Thus, we are all getting fat.

I was at an informal after-work gathering the other night in a bar, celebrating a small victory for our organization.  It was a pleasant time. I noted, though, that almost everybody had their smart phones out and were intermittently and constantly checking them and interacting with them.  Some people were texting friends for various reasons, some were on twitter, some were taking pictures and putting them online and so on.

It dawned on me that we may be gorging on social networking the same way we gorge on fat and sugar.  Socializing is also crucial to human survival.  I wonder if we are also hardwired to socialize in some fundamental way.  Imagine back in the tribal days, when a group of hunters wouldn't see anybody for days.  It was a big and important deal when you visited another tribe or ran into another group of hunters.  Information and goods were exchanged, social connections developed.

Similarly to fat and sugar production, today, our modern industrial society provides an endless source of social consumption.  We can stay in contact with other people, exchanging information and goods 24/7.  But should we be?  Will there be some kind of internet obesity that begins to affect the new generations born with smartphones in their hands?  Are we going to have to go on social networking diets?

I have no science to back my theory up, but we are already hearing murmurings.  Mark my words.  You heard it here first.  Social networking obesity will be a major issue of the first world in the next few decades.

1 comment:

caropops said...

When my friends grandmother first came to the prairies as a pioneer, when a woman came to visit, they both burst into tears as it was so lonely and rare to see anyone. So your hardwired theory about needing connections seems to bear lots of anecdotal fruit.