The "some things never change" argument Versus My nerves You're in the middle of a conversation about technology, in awe before the incredible leap our species has made in the field lately. However, the other party is only giving you mild approval. He/she nods, accepts the facts, then reflects about how humans will always be humans. Whatever the leap, regardless of how much the means and the medium evolve, we will still be the same : "men will look for women, women will look for men, the internet won't eradicate stupidity, the brightest and wittiest will always make it just as the fittest survived in the past and succeeded in reproducing, humans will try to predict and picture the future ... and fail ... you know, we're evolving, of course, but some things never change" >:(
Enter My nerves >:(
No. I'm sorry. And to understand why I'm sorry, here's a beautiful illustration :
Now your opinion: Do you think the interaction between the two triangles in case A is equivalent to the interaction in case B ? How could it possibly be the same ? In case B, there's a circle in between for Pete's sake !
Unless the circle is weightless, meaning unless it does not affect the interaction in any way, meaning unless it is non-existent in other terms then case A is different from case B. The kind of technology where the circle is non-existent, where communication is not altered in any way due to its presence does not exist. Each means of communication takes away some aspect of direct communication (I can' t see you when we're talking on the phone, I can't shake your hand in Skype ...). So let's agree on this : communication is different. It changed.
The evolution of emotions:
Can we now agree on another lovely illustration (yes, I have a tablet PC :) ):
Pretty obvious right ? Emotion is a function of communication among other things (x refers to these other things here). So since we already agree that communication has changed, doesn't that imply that emotion is also bound to change?
Do you think love has remained unchanged since 1800 AD, since 1200 AD, since 5000 BC. Maybe it still puts into play the same parts of our brain, but it is unimaginable that the way a man or a woman used to love a man or a woman has remained intrinsically unaltered since the dawn of time. What I am saying in other terms is : Emotions evolve. Emotions adapt, some emotions fade away, some are selected and survive. Yes, some emotions will go extinct. They will disappear and stop being relayed throughout generations because of their sheer lack of use.
In "The Information", James Gleick explains that though we moved from telegraph, to phone, to video, the theory that underlies information (the communication of a message as Claude Shannon might define it) is somewhat universal. But our fight for a means of communication as direct as possible has another goal. In our move from telegraph, to phone, to video, to the up-coming internet of things and internet connected sex-toys and gadgets that replicate the touch and feel that another user inputted on the other end of the line (yes, you aren't hallucinating, internet connected sex toys controlled from a distance are being used in Second Life by users who want to connect ... more) : this move, this fight, is our fight for emotions' survival.
Harvey Fineberg explains how we've outdone traditional evolution (we've stopped adapting to our environment and started adapting it to us):
Apply this reasoning to our emotions : We are trying to preserve every one of them.
A history of emotions:
The part of the human adventure of which we have a trace of (what we call History) is but a fraction of the whole human adventure. Love as we know it might have descended from something else, much more recently than we think. Louis Georges Tin, a French sociologist, demonstrates, for example, how different a man's love for a woman is today compared to what it was in ancient Greece or during the Middle Ages.
How much of our emotional heritage we've lost throughout History ? How much evolved ? How much developed to respond to new situations among our civilizations ?
Moreover, if you consider, as Ray Kurzweil might argue that evolution accelerates, that it becomes quicker, then you might say that love is evolving today faster than it ever has, shyness too, sadness is changing form by the second, redefined as it is, by our countless interactions.
Compare the mails you used to write to your first darling and the ones you're writing today. How much of it is due to increased maturity, how much is evolution ? Can it be that it's happening this fast ?
Maybe I should study the use of different emoticons on MSN and various social networks throughout time : see which are fading away and which are increasingly being used. Get me right here : Human hearts and minds are unfathomable mines. But sometimes small murmurs have large echos in these places.