Happy together–or why we have to be social

People need community to survive. In an increasingly networked world, we should be doing better and better–our social well-being should be great. However, this is actually not true, write GDI researchers in a study and explain why.

Herz Wellness

The following text is based on an excerpt from the GDI study "Wellness 2030 - The new techniques of happiness", which is available in our webshop. 

Loneliness is bad for your health–worse than smoking or unhealthy food. Loneliness means social stress; it strains your mental well-being and impacts  your physical condition. According to John Cacioppo, neuroscientist and  Director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, the physical consequences of social isolation or rejection are as real as thirst, hunger, or pain. Humans are social animals. According to Cacioppo, being socially marginalized–or excluded altogether–is remarkably dangerous. The brain automatically switches to a self-preservation mode that places the body under extreme stress. Good social integration is essential for our health and well-being. This is not a matter of integrating into just any group, but rather of finding a group that suits us individually. Essentially, the route  to happiness is through the right personal relationships. 

In the pre-digital age, finding people who were good for us was often a question of luck. Today, there are tools that optimize the search for a longer short-term partner. Online matching platforms make it easier to find people who suit us. This affects friendships or love relationships, and  our entire lives. 

In the 21st century, connecting with other people has taken on a new dimension: collaboration is now a part of our everyday lives. Together we are smarter, learn better, reach goals faster, and make fewer mistakes. We still organize this collaboration on an ad-hoc basis for each individual task, but in the future, algorithms could take on the work of choosing the partner who suits us best. What's more, the involvement of artificial intelligence could significantly increase the quality of the results. 

The American computer expert Louis Rosenberg goes one step further. He wants to use an algorithm that turns groups into super-experts to increase human intelligence. Rosenberg calls his approach “Unanimous Swarm AI.” Instead of removing humans from the decision-making loop, as expert systems have done until now, he is making them a critical part of the process. Rosenberg’s algorithm brings the right people together, allowing them to boost the swarm intelligence and increase well-being through mutual support and inspiration. Collective learning can be accelerated in this manner. 

Increased connectivity also has its dark side. Social pressure to connect with others from the "right" group is increasing. Experts such as Dr. Bernadka Dubicka of the Royal College of Psychiatrists have discovered that young girls in particular are increasingly likely to experience psychological crises due to the pressure and stress of comparing themselves with peers on social media. To withstand this pressure, achieving the proper balance between social proximity and social distance will play a decisive role in our happiness in the future.