Monday, January 14, 2008

What do quilting clubs, the Freemasons and Blackberries have in common?

Today I picked up some food after work and saw this guy waiting for his food:

  1. White iPod classic attached to belt buckle, listening in one ear.
  2. Other ear covered by bluetooth headset. Oh, he wasn't talking to anyone, he just has it there so he can answer a call with Steve Austin like prowess.
  3. Blackberry. CONSTANT Blackberry. Seriously... for at least 5-10 minutes, he did not move other than to take a sip of a drink. He was just clicking away at his Blackberry.
Otherwise he looked like a relatively normal guy.

It got me thinking... are people addicted to technology like this just because they're terrified of being with their own thoughts? That seems too deliberate, so I started wondering if it was some kind of evolutionary thing. I've been trying to break most human behavior down into evolutionary basics, and this one seems ripe for it.

It would make a lot of sense if there was some evolutionary drive for humans to want to feel connected to other humans. People survive in groups, they can fight off rabid platypuses and raise crops together. Oh yeah, and pro-create.

In lieu of having to do those things anymore by way of survival, Blackberries are the technological way of making you feel connected to millions of people, anytime, anywhere. And that's why they're like crack. Your brain has some motivation to do that all the time... and now it can.

Earlier in our history, once we had created societies that were sophisticated enough such that we didn't really need to group together to fight animals (just each other), that's when people started coming up with Quilting Clubs and the Freemasons -- things that make people feel included, yet socially interactive. I'd say religion is in the same arena. But once technology took over, we could feed that need much more easily. No one has to go anywhere, you can just do it all on the internet. Why do you think all of the most popular Web applications all have to do with social interaction -- is it because the business model is the best or is it because of the human need for that socialization drives people to those sites in the first place?

One more thing. Having an infant in the house has me theorizing about the evolution of sleep a lot. My idea is that we evolved to sleep because otherwise the parents would die. If kids didn't sleep, how would we ever be able to get anything done? Oh, you might think that one of the parents can take care of the kid while the other does whatever. Yeah, it never works out that way. So our ancestors who never slept died off quickly because their children would preoccupy them to the point of being eaten by bears. The End.