Thursday, April 02, 2009

Facebook, Twitter...can evolution keep up with us? A coming crash?

This post continues the thread started in last Monday's post on future shock and yesterday's iParticipate post. I try to stay informed about (and even join, to check out) the emerging connectivity contexts such as Facebook and Twitter (these links are to NY Times articles on these services, some graphics are shown below). All of these can bind us into increasingly complex and numerous interactions at an ever accelerating pace (see also Rapid Publishing). This may be congenial to the 18-30 demographic, but it leaves me with a sense of vertigo and overload. We know that human evolution occurs much more rapidly than previously thought, and that the plasticity of developing brains allows young people to acquire more complex mental abilities. But, how long will it be until our physiological and emotional repertoires, still largely those of our paleolithic ancestors, are sufficiently overwhelmed that the resulting stress and immune dysfunction increases from being a 'problem' to really shutting us down? I find myself wishing there was a STOP! function, with a RESET button, that could start us all over again with the rate knob dialed down ten-fold, in the spirit of slow food.

Facebook just passed the 200 million mark in membership. It started with 17-24 year olds, but the fastest growing member group of members is now over 35. What a 'friend' is on Facebook depends on how you define friend (click to enlarge):

Here is a small subset of the Twitter-verse, a subsection of a larger graphic that focuses on celebrities (click to enlarge):

1 comment:

  1. These media aren't the cause of a crash. They are a harbinger perhaps, a dawning that we have to live with billions of other people. (Those at the bottom are fully aware of the crush of humanity, without tweeting.)

    Then again, these media are experiments in the ongoing invention of language. What of them that survives can be counted as an aspect of human evolution, maybe hard on us old ones, but for the benefit of the species.

    By the way, you've inspired me to try it. Please follow at