General, Research, Technology

How has the internet changed our society?

In 1960, the world's population was threebillion. This means that on the city streets it was mostly quiet, and passers-by enjoyed the beauty and architectural genius of architects of the past. Today, 7.7 billion people live on our planet. The central streets of many cities now look like metro stations at rush hour - for example, Rambla Street in Barcelona or Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg. However, the most interesting thing is that most passers-by do not look at the facades of historical buildings and architectural ensembles. Their eyes are fixed on the small black mirrors of the instruments they hold in their hands. You don’t need to be a genius to understand that society has changed with the development of technology and the advent of the Internet. But how?

Changes in society are happening more rapidly, but do we notice them?


  • 1 What makes people happy?
  • 2 Dunbar number
  • 3 Dopamine nets and true friends
  • 4 The series “Black Mirror” is no longer a series

What makes people happy?

One of the most interesting scientific studies,dedicated to the study of human happiness, has been going on for 80 years. You may even have heard of him. The famous Harvard Study of Adult Development scientists at Harvard began in 1938, when during the Great Depression, researchers wanted to find out what factors affect a long and happy life. As test subjects, 268 Harvard sophomores were selected, but over time, control groups expanded and in the 1970s, 456 Boston residents were included in the study. 40 of them are still alive, today they are more than 90 years old. Only 10 years ago, scientists included the subjects' wives in the study.

For decades, researchers have studiedthe health status of the subjects and followed the changes in their lives, including the triumphs and failures in their careers and personal lives. The most interesting fact is that until now every two years, scientists call the subjects and ask how they are doing, writing down the answers. For 80 years, the authors of the study have also changed, taking over the work of their predecessors. The results obtained by scientists were amazing. Research has shown that close relationships, more than money or fame, make people happy throughout their lives. These connections protect against life's troubles, help maintain mental and physical health, and are better predictors of a long and happy life than social status, IQ, or even genes. This conclusion turned out to be true in all areas, both among students from Harvard and among workers from Boston.

Harvard scientists have learned the secret of happiness

It turns out that for happiness people need other people anddeep, sincere relationship with them. And if in the past communication between people took place live, today we are less likely to leave home, and during meetings with friends we sometimes pay more attention to our smartphones. It is logical to assume that communication between people has changed a lot over the past decades. But how will these changes affect our lives and happiness? The answer to this question, most likely, we will not receive soon. Only recently, scientists from Harvard began a second large-scale study - now they will observe the lives of the children of the first two groups of subjects. Thus, we will not know the preliminary results any earlier than in 15-20 years, so today we can only assume how technologies have changed changed the world and ourselves.

Dunbar number

The number of permanent connections that cansupporting a person throughout his life is 150. This was the conclusion of the British anthropologist, evolutionary psychologist and specialist in the field of primacy behavior, Robin Dunbar. According to the results of the study, all herd primates, including Homo sapiens, are characterized by complex social behavior. Primates actively interact with group members, usually through grooming. The anthropologist drew attention to the relationship between the level of development of the new cerebral cortex (neocortex) - in humans, this area is responsible for sensory perception, conscious thinking, motor functions and speech - and the size of the pack in primates. Based on data on 38 varieties of primates, he deduced a mathematical relationship between the development of the neocortex and the size of the flock, and, based on an assessment of the development of the human brain, he proposed an estimate of the optimal size of the human herd.

And how many people do you keep in touch with? You can discuss the number of Dunbar and share life stories with the participants of our Telegram chat.

To match community dataHomo Sapiens, Dunbar returned to anthropology. The researcher found out that the number of people in traditional rural villages varies within the limits assumed by him - up to two hundred people. In his work, the scientist suggested that the number of neurocortical neurons - electrically excitable brain cells that process, store and transmit information using electrical and chemical signals - limits the body's ability to process information, which, in turn, limits the number of relationships that a person can simultaneously support. When the group size exceeds this number, it becomes difficult for an individual to maintain the number of contacts.

Modern communication looks like this

And really - if you ask representativesof the older generation, how did they get to know each other, communicate and find out any news, they would answer that they met at friends' holidays, went for walks together, said goodbye to each other with a view to the next meeting, and when the hostess wanted to cook an unusual dish, then I asked my friends for a recipe. And the number of these friends on average did not exceed 150 people. All of the above examples indicate that in the past people interacted with each other much more often. They had to personally communicate both with a familiar circle of people and meet new people, which, undoubtedly, perfectly developed their social skills. It is possible that it was this experience of our parents and grandmothers that affected the mutual understanding of generations - today, young people communicate more and more online, and this applies to both friendship and love relationships.

Today, the opportunity at any time to get the wholethe necessary information, simply by googling it, significantly reduced the need for live communication between people. Why call friends or meet a friend who owns the information you need when there is Internet? Gradually, this led to the fact that people began to chat less live and more on the network. So, it is more difficult for modern adolescents to get to know strangers and socialize in general than to representatives of previous generations.

Dopamine networks and true friends

A huge role in the modern world is playedsocial networks and profiles that we create in them. Some psychologists call pages on social networks the creation of an improved version of themselves, since each person strives to make a good impression on others and often provides false information about himself. It turns out that communication itself has changed today, has become more superficial. A certain fragmentation of interests also appeared - if in the past the whole country looked “The meeting place cannot be changed” and common topics for conversation could be found with almost everyone, today the picture is completely different. The advent of the Internet and streaming services such as Netflix, on the one hand, gave us imaginary freedom of choice, and on the other, made it more difficult to get to know a person with similar interests in real life.

Instagram began testing “giving up likes” in some regions of the United States. According to the company's new policy, likes will be available only to the author of publications, and his subscribers are not

Moreover, based on the work of Dunbar, one canmake a false conclusion that the number of friends on social networks should not exceed 150 people. But in fact, we add a large number of people to our friends, half of whom have never seen or will never see each other again. The numbers in the friends tab today are a source of dopamine, but not true happiness.

According to a recent study,a person is able to maintain only five truly close contacts throughout life. That is why the first five people are separately highlighted in your feed on social networks. But with the rest of the conditional 145 friends, communication is a bit strange - about once a year or six months we congratulate each other with messages, for example, “happy birthday”, as if letting the other person know that we remember about his existence. But such a “zombie” in social networks cannot be called full communication. It turns out that our ancestors communicated with each other much more often and more productively than us, and this communication was often a key factor in their well-being.

Zombing is like or congratulating on a holiday from a person with whom you do not support communication both online and in real life.

I note that the Internet and the information age are notonly enriched the Russian language with the latest borrowings, but also changed etiquette. So, in the modern world, the ability to put off a smartphone on time and not take too many photos in the presence of others is very much appreciated.

The series "Black Mirror" is no longer a series

Social science fiction lovers for surewatched at least one episode of the Charlie Brucker series Black Mirror. The first series of the third season talked about how likes on social networks affect social status and determine the situation in society. And if the relationship between people in the world shown in this episode looks like an exaggeration, then the reality has not really gone that far - a taxi driver today can really lose his job if a client puts him only one out of five stars a couple of times. And how does almost all the interactions between people in modern China take place, as if making you think: “Isn't this the world of the black mirror”?

Shot from the series “Black Mirror” (Season 3, Episode 1)

Of course, the advent of the Internet and modernTechnology has changed not only friendship and relationships. Today, the Internet has an impact on almost all aspects of our lifestyle - from basic needs to the most luxurious things. And as we step into the future, it is logical to assume that the dependence on the Internet and its role in our lives will only increase. The modern world erases borders, resembling a global city that exists thanks to the Internet. Indeed, despite the fact that communication today is increasingly superficial, we can now communicate with anyone, anytime, anywhere. The Internet has become a kind of guide to all information and requests about beauty, health, fashion, lifestyle, personal hygiene and much more. Moreover, we can not only work without leaving home, but also receive education sitting in our comfortable chair. The Internet has become a huge platform for the free exchange of knowledge. Yes, we’re less likely to see each other’s faces, but we do have Wikipedia.

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Concluding this article, I cannot but note thatAlong with the endless possibilities that have appeared thanks to the Internet, there is no less reason for concern. Our society is rapidly transforming and the meme “ok, boomer”, which recently engulfed the world social networks, is a good example. The generation of baby boomers - people who were born between 1943 and 1963 - really does not understand the millennials and especially representatives of the Z generation. The fact is that the social environment in which the boomers grew up was completely different than the environment that surrounds modern children and adolescents - and they, among other things, are surrounded by screens of smartphones, tablets, televisions and unlimited flows of information.

The cast of the series “Friends” is almost at full strength. The inscription at the top is “boomers”

The changes concern world views and even jokes. What was considered ridiculous 20 years ago and what was joked in the series “Friends” today is causing outrage among young people. The values ​​broadcast by the Boomer generation are aging at an incredible speed, which only increases the misunderstanding between people. But I see no less dangerous inability, and sometimes unwillingness, of network users to verify information. It's no secret that pseudoscientific and dangerous ideas, for example, about the dangers of vaccination, spread with incredible speed and success on social networks.

No matter how our society changes with developmenttechnologies and the advent of the Internet, we all the same remain people with the inherent errors of thinking, the need for communication and closeness with others. Perhaps the best that each of us can do today is stop for a minute and think about which direction and where we are going.