Saskatoon Freethinkers meet up

I found their group through Facebook and figured it was worth joining that for updates about meetings and things. They’re having a general meeting next Sunday so I RSVP’d myself. I suspect it’ll be worthwhile to get involved and meet other like-minded folks in the area. I could use an improved social network, as well.

I finally got a copy of Connected from the library and it’s depressing the hell out of me.

The book is by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler and it’s all about social networking and how that evolves and influences everything from marriage chances to emotions to obesity of all things.

As near as I can figure, my ability to get a date rests in the lap of my friends’ friends. If my friends don’t have any eligible friends they feel like dropping my name on, I’m less likely to meet anyone. Not that two strangers can’t meet randomly and hit it off, but these researchers have followed the stories of numerous people (and looked through reams of data on human habits going back decades) and have hit on something a bit different than Six Degrees of Separation. They call it the Three Degrees Rule. What we do affects our friends (one degree) who affect their friends (2 degrees) which kind of will affect friends of theirs. Word of mouth style communication and even work related success can travel this network but it’s usually limited to three degrees. Another ripple out from the original person and there’s very little original influence to be had. They call this the network-instability explanation

There’s also intrinsic decay where the usefulness of the information will fade over time (who to vote for etc.) especially since passing the information takes time, too. Or, if you’re like me and rarely check email, all kinds of intrinsic decay crap goes on. Sometimes I don’t find out things have happened with friends until it’s too late to enjoy the party or whatever. Assuming friends even bothered to email me, knowing what I’m like…

They also considered an evolutionary-purpose explanation for this, too. Since humans evolved to exist in relatively small social groups, it was likely everyone knew everybody (or at least knew someone who knew someone else). We’ve developed this three degree existence because it worked well enough to never need a wider circle of influence. Maybe this will change in time, too.

This winds up being a great argument to toss as those silly goosies who think atheists suddenly become amoral without a god. How could we, given how connected we are to everyone around us, how we’re influenced by so many people whether we’ve met them or not? How could we suddenly stop being influenced by the socially healthy construct of our communities? Avoiding violence and theft and rotten behaviour helps everyone. It’s flat out impossible to avoid being influenced by people unless you can hermit yourself somewhere and avoid all communication with everyone in every way. That includes body language. We get just as much from facial expression and posture as we do from speech. We just process it differently.

Every experience you have will affect someone else. Everyone you talk to today has already talked to so many other people who may have said something nice or done something mean in return. Their emotional feelings when you see them will automatically rub off on you. And you, in turn, will pass it to the next person who sees or speaks to you.

I’ll probably find something else to write about in regards to this book before I have to return it. It’s fascinating reading.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
This entry was posted in books, culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.