turns out, you need other people, and that’s how it’s supposed to be

Any expert is a proxy that will simplify the books and knowledge you don’t want to spend the time learning about. Theoretically, you could become the foremost expert on North Eastern moss, but we trust the sites on Google that break it down more effectively into what we need to know. Trust is involved for so many of our actions because we are limited individuals. There is only so much time in the day, and only so much effort and focus we can exert. When we find ourselves at a loss, we ask. Or rather, we should ask.

Even though we are social creatures that thrive and require social connections, we also have a deep desire to be independent. We want to be able to exist without our social matrix. “Surviving in the Wilderness” videos get so many views because we want to know that we could do it. We want to know that we aren’t dependent on others, that we have value in and of ourselves. The issue with that line of thought is that almost all of our values matter in relation to other people. We want to be individuals, almost in spite of our relation to a network, but that in itself creates a relationship. We value other people, even though we may claim that other’s opinions don’t matter.

So, what do we do? Give up any semblance of individuality and commit to the needs of the whole without complaint?

Absolutely not. We need other people, but that doesn’t destroy the value of the individual. Some differences, some values should not be thrown away just because the majority disagrees. It is good and important that we want to be independent. By interacting with the group and offering up the differences we have, we both gain value as an individual and support the whole. Sometimes we don’t realize how we have value, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Simply by living and experiencing things, we can offer different perspectives, different natural abilities,  and even just being there to listen to others can do incredible good.

We can do great things as individuals but pretending like we don’t need other people will only make us miserable. So ask others when you don’t know what to do. If no one knows, then take your best guess and maybe you’ll be able to help someone else that falls into the same situation.

just talk to a dang person

As amazing and important as technology is, there is one queen bee we often forget about: socialization. Humans are social creatures! We organize in groups of kinship, then create groups of similar disposition. When we are afraid, we tend to recruit another human to go along with us. As a species, we have managed to create the most complex and dense structure of interaction to provide resources for not only ourselves and immediate family, but for virtually all families of our nation! There are of course many nuances, details, exceptions, and limitations to that concept, but just consider!

Take an individual who is living in a first world country. They live in homes constructed by people they’ve never met, filled with things that people have created machines to mass produce, have complex interactions with a variety of people who are potentially amazingly different than them! Even with violence and war, racism, sexism, and all those other isms, we manage to find massive conglomerates of people with our same beliefs! We are able to organize to the point of millions; that is absolutely crazy!! Humans are amazingly social, seeing faces in clouds and personifying things like toys.

Socialization is one of the key foundations of our psychological well-being. Loners might seem cool, but they also die faster and live miserably. To some extent, we likely adore loner figures in stories and fiction because of our innate drive to want to incorporate them into the group again. The “bad boy” stereotype is admired in part, not because he’s bad, but because of the hope that maybe he isn’t.

And yet! We stop physically interacting because of smart phones, opting for the easier option. Don’t get me wrong, technology is amazing and incredibly important! We could do so much with it, and do! However, there is a colossal problem with over using social media in a way that disrupts our naturally physically interactive social behaviors. You don’t have to chuck your phone, it would probably cause a huge mess because of all the responsibilities tied to it. However, what we can do is try to limit ourselves. Revel in being human! Sure, check out your feed, but then have a face to face conversation over dinner. Just talk to people, do something, don’t just scroll for hours on end! It sounds like unnecessary work, but it really isn’t– on the contrary, it is core to our physical and mental well being.

why we do boring, uncomfortable things

Reputation is bizarre, if you think about it. Most people who “hear” a reputation have never actually been around the person. A few people witness someone doing something kind or cruel, and those few people spread that idea around. Reputation is a social phenomenon; one person cannot have a reputation by themselves, there needs to be others to give them one.

We do not own ourselves. Any individual could try to rob a bank and flee for the border, or dance around in a tutu on the table of a meeting, but we don’t. We are bound morally to follow the rules because there are other people. We are born into a social group and follow the customs because of both habit and belief that the law will provide order and justice. Even more than the law, we are bound by our friends and family. We cannot do certain things or else we will hurt those we love.

Whether we like it or not, humans are less like individuals and more like parts of a whole. We do many things we don’t want to do, solely because of our responsibilities to those around us. To think of that might be terrifying. Especially in certain cultures, the idea that we are without ‘true’ freedom is almost equivocal to death. However, paradoxically, the selflessness of responsibility often helps us. When we help others, they tend to help us too. When we do things we don’t want to do, it enables us to have more options to do what we do want to do.

Reputation may seem like a chain to some people. Indeed, we easily become over-obsessed with self image. Yet if your idea of freedom is just “doing whatever you want”, it will become a miserable, lonely existence. We need other people in order to function. We have to take responsibilities on because we
care and honor others. Don’t just do things out of habit, remember why you are doing it! Let us live intentionally so we don’t waste it unintentionally.