Our social species

Humans have incredibly sophisticated minds. We are, in my opinion, the most social species. We wake up every morning to either interact with family, go to work with and for other people, or we communicate with others over the internet. Wherever you are on this planet, it is more than likely that you have social interactions with other people. We eat, laugh, and learn with other humans. What if we didn’t?

Just how social are we? We are the only species that take each other on dates to the Olive Garden. We are the only species who get upset when “they didn’t call me back”. We are the only species that rip flowers out of the ground and then demand that other human beings buy these dying plants to offer to other humans in a form of apology. Our species kind of sounds ridiculously complicated from this point of view. However, because of our high intelligence levels, our brains would become bored if we didn’t make life so complicated and ridiculous.

Other animals such as primates have social brains as well. Social animals need to be social to survive. I have independently studied great apes for about four years now. From what I have learned, chimpanzees are the most social. They stay with their mothers for around eight years because they cannot survive on their own without the extra care. They groom to form a strong bond with each other, and typically live in groups from a dozen to over one hundred other chimpanzees. Their entire lives depend on their social skills. The only times they separate from the groups are either when the females and their offspring migrate to other groups, or when they are separated by unnatural causes such as habitat destruction or being taken by humans. These animals, like most great apes and other primates, can become depressed if they are taken from their groups. There have been cases in which chimps have a heightened aggression, depression, and self-mutilation when they are kept in unnatural and unsocial environments. Social species aren’t supposed to be unsocial.

I think if we as a social species became unsocial, we would act similar to the chimpanzees. Imagine not being able to talk to your family and friends. What if you lost every single social media account you had, in addition to this. If we lost all of our connections to each other, there would be chaos. The website I linked to shows how quickly social media is growing and becoming a part of us. A species that talks, walks, and breathes amongst each other would fall apart and become extinct. If we could not socialize, then we could not breed (that is if we never see another human being in our lives). If all human beings stopped breeding than the entire species would be extinct in a hundred years or less. Frightening, isn’t it?

What if we were never a social species to begin with? Imagine our brains were not as intelligent. Picture a society in which mothers didn’t have to care for their children, they just give birth and then leave (kind of like sea turtles, but they lay eggs). Also imagine what it would be like if humans were similar to snakes. Some species of snakes will actually eat other snakes. If we were less intelligent and non-social we could actually become cannibalistic (that is, if we see other human beings in our lives). Life would be easier though. We wouldn’t have to worry about going to work and sitting in a cubicle all day. Parents wouldn’t have to answer the question “what’s for dinner?”. Life would be all about surviving for you. However, it wouldn’t be as fun as it is now. Solitary living would mean that the whole purpose of your life is to survive. Social living has proved that I have many purposes in my life.

I like purpose.

Word count: 707


3 thoughts on “Our social species

  1. This is pretty informative and interesting. I remember reading a article about a man who was in kept in isolation, jail cell for 23 hours a day, for a couple of years and when he got back into general population of the jail he didn’t know how to communicate anymore and basically became crazy. It made news if you wanted to read up more about it, just go to CNN and look for it. I bet you can still find it.

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