Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Humans Thrive in Groups

For most of human history, our ancestors roamed in groups of hunter-gatherers. Those groups were physically limited to members of the tribe. But 10,000 years ago, the laws of human interaction changed. After the Agricultural Revolution, organizations—like businesses, governments, churches, and schools—emerged as groups acting with a common cause. They reaped the rewards of cooperation, and thrived.

Then, the laws of human interaction changed during the Industrial Revolution. Meta-groups—like corporations and nations—emerged from the collective activities of millions of people, many who have never met.

Today, the laws of human interaction are changing once again. We are experiencing exponential growth in inter-connectedness; for example, one billion people use Facebook everyday.[1] But we are increasingly isolated behind television, computer, and smart-phone screens. Theoretically, people can now live in complete isolation—socializing, shopping, and working entirely online—like an Orwellian dystopia.

As an introvert, in law school, I spend a lot of time by myself. Although I don’t study in groups, I depend on the support of my friends and family. Without them, I would not be flourishing at the level I am, nor working as hard as I can. They make me happy, and happiness is motivating.

These are some things I would recommend to any law student:

1. Establish a group chat with your peers. We have one where we answer each other’s questions, share jokes, and coordinate hang-outs. We even have our headquarters in the library.

2. Spend a lot of time on campus—even solo study time—and attend all possibly interesting events.

3. Be with your classmates: between class, in class, and after class. Don’t isolate yourself behind a computer screen.

4. If confronted with a choice to socialize or not, err on the side of socialization. Invest in your best relationships.

Remember, nothing can replace human interaction, not even philosophy. Even Thoreau entertained guests at Walden.[2] And Aristotle said no one could want complete isolation, except beasts and gods.[3] Some laws of human interaction never changed: we are still as dependent upon others for happiness, as we are for survival.

Humans are primarily social creatures, and we thrive in groups.

[1] Facebook, Company Info.

[2] Spark Notes, Walden, Visitors.

[3] Aristotle, Politics, Book 1, Section II.

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