Innovation of Loneliness

I know there exists a copious amount of literature out there that discusses how social media has the ironic effect on making us lonely but this video illustrates the argument beautifully. The demands of social networks force us into highly edited personal promotion with superficial semblances of extensive friendships and a compulsive need to ‘like’ and ‘share’ to feel connected.

You’ll Be Sorry For Saying Sorry

Among many of the unwritten norms of interaction that govern human interaction is the apology – the admittance of fault to another party. But, is apologizing really the best way out of things? Does it always promise the mending of relationships to move things forward?

An article on the Scientific American argues that refusing to say sorry can bring about significant psychological benefits as well – and this often comes into our calculations when deciding whether to apologize or not.

One such benefit it the retention of the ‘upper hand’ of the transgressor – thus minimizing damage if one can’t deny the act anyway. Think about celebrities, business leaders or politicians who sometimes try to diffuse blame or only claim to be ‘sorry that it happened’ instead of claiming personal responsibility.

Another key benefit is ‘saving face’ – trying to project to the image of authenticity in that you are a person of consistent principles and values and thus are not sorry for your act although you may regret the consequences or effects of it. Again leaders, especially religious ones, often strive to project this.

Think about the last time you pondered over whether to apologize for some transgression committed on your part. Did the same complexities confront you? What is the true value of an apology nowadays? 

A Responsibility to Awe

What does it mean when we say we are ‘awed’ by something? According to Silva, it is in the things we perceive that force us to reconfigure our mental models of the world in order to assimilate them.

Think. The next tutorial, the next lesson, the next zero period, the next lunch with your classmate, your family, the next bus ride. Hedonic adaptation means we might literally adapted our brain to these moments such that we are no longer awed and inspired by the banality of the everyday.

How can we bring back that awe?

I think. I want to be happy.

How can having an education, or at least a greater ability to think more critically, make us happier? Not necessarily because it lands us better jobs or careers.

But because it allows us to make sense of our daily grind of life – turning situations of banality and self-absorbed irritation in this dense segmented urban space into opportunities to make sense of the world and to wonder about those around you. The dozens in your ATM or taxi queue, the hundreds squeezing on the bus and train, the thousands in the university. What are their probably backgrounds? Their stories? What sides of their personality or life do we not see? How did we all land up in this situation?

“Learning how to think” really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.Because if you cannot or will not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”

What The Internet Does to Our Brains

What’s important to note here is that when we talk about the impact of certain phenomena or things on society, it is not enough to say that they’re inherently bad or good. But rather the question is: why is it likely to make a negative impact given the way our brains are seemingly wired (e.g. the need to stay focused on pay attention in order to store more information in our long term memory), or given how the internet today is filled with  distractions (e.g. hyperlinks, browser tabs, adverts, messages, updates on social media, email alerts).

In other words, we need to closely examine both the nature of the impacted group (i.e. the biological makeup of your average human in a developed society) and the nature of the impacting agent (i.e. the internet as it has developed till today).

And also, is it really enough to just stay the internet is bad – full stop? Hardly. Notice how the video ends with a qualification to concede that the internet does have its benefits but it is just that we need to moderate our use of it and factor in more down time in our daily lives.

GOSH. Even while typing that post I got distracted by 3 news articles, 2 videos and 1 Facebook alert.

What you speak affects how you save

According to Yale University behavioral economist Keith Chen, the language you speak affects your spending and saving behavior.

“The act of savings is fundamentally about understanding that your future self – the person you’re saving for – is in some sense equivalent to your present self,” Prof Chen told the BBC’s Business Daily.

“If your language separates the future and the present in its grammar that seems to lead you to slightly disassociate the future from the present every time you speak.

“That effectively makes it harder for you to save.”

What do you think of his findings? And, what does it say for bilinguals like us in Singapore?