The typical argument given for people needing human connection is that we have evolved to need human connection. We are wired to want human connection. Perhaps babies are wired to want human connection before they can actually start thinking, reasoning and being creative to a larger degree.
But for the rest of us, does it make a difference if we have evolved to want human connection or not? Aren’t we constantly doing things outside of what we are “evolutionary wired to do.” We are evolutionary wired to live in forests, but most of us live under concrete brick walls. We are evolutionary wired to only eat nuts and berries and fish, but we eat pizzas and burgers. We are evolutionary wired to not use technology but almost all of us have phones and computers.
And the biggest one – we are evolutionary wired to pass on our genes but some of us choose not to have kids.
Humans are constantly creating, ideating, and doing things outside of what evolutionary biology dictates. We come up with reasons and ideas that make it plausible for us to do so. David Deutsch highlights this point in his book Beginning of Infinity and in his interview with Tyler Cowen.
Having laid this out, let’s revisit the question in my title – do we really need human connection? There is this fear around robot sex dolls (which in fact, I’ve written about before), and technology replacing human connection which is supposedly not going to be good for humanity. Is it really the case that it won’t be good for humanity?
What if we come up with reasons and explanations that make us okay with not wanting human connection? What if we come up with reasons that make us want to interact less with other humans? And indeed, there are cultures that are more individualistic (and have been for a long time). It is quite possible that we come up with explanations that make us want to only interact with our computers. Perhaps children playing video games already do this. Now, the reasons and explanations we come up with for not wanting human connection (and apparently going against evolution) may not be good explanations, but they could still drive our behavior towards less human connection.
And what if these explanations don’t indicate how less social connection will be bad for humanity? It may be the case that less human connection doesn’t in fact have “detrimental” consequences such as loneliness or depression. In all those studies that say lack of social connection is causing depression, could it be the case that it’s not lack of social connection, but it’s eating unhealthy food or something more bizarre like not being considered attractive by your peers? Perhaps it could be. I say this because I’m not sure if the studies that claim that lack of social connection causes depression give explanations that are not hard to vary. Depression could be the result of other reasons not accounted for. But maybe I need to look more into those studies.
Look, I don’t know the answer to my question(s). I’m just conjecturing and laying out my thoughts. But I do think there is no settled science or objective truth on whether humans (outside of babies) absolutely need other human connection. Or at least I don’t know of a good explanation that makes me believe so. Give me one and I could change my mind. Please feel free to criticize my thinking so I can improve upon it.
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P.S. Btw, I like human connection and I want it. But my point is I’m not sure if we “need” it and if there are negative consequences without it.