Bottom line: We live in an increasingly complex interconnected world. "Modern social networks are fraught with dull old dysfunction and wonderfully new opportunities" (Levitin, 120).
Modern social relations are complex
How do we keep track of all these people?
- When you meet someone new, write down as much as you can from that visit (it helps your brain remember), such as the context of your meeting, who connected you, and any other details that will later help you remember (Levitin,122).
- Create a tickler file, a reminder, something that tickles your memory. For example, set a reminder in your calendar to check in with a certain person every two months. Externalize your memory to help you stay connected to the people you care about but would not otherwise get around to connecting with (Levitin,125). I have recently made an effort to write paper letters and will set a reminder in my calendar to do this. I love that I can think of something once and forget about it until I need to act on it.
- Rely on the "transitive memory" that stores information in other people. You may not remember a specific idea or area of expertise but you know that a friend will. Who in your social network knows what you want to know? Let them carry that burden and ask them when needed. Much of our data storage is within the small crowd of our personal relationships (Levitin,125).
The lure of Facebook and social network sites
But, be wise, friends. Online connectivity provides breadth but rarely depth. If we're not careful we'll spend a day under the illusion that we're being social rather than really connecting with others, which can lead to decreased empathy and increased loneliness (Levitin,127). Interestingly, social rejection causes activation in the same part of the brain as physical pain does (Levitin,137). We're more connected but are we really more connected? In my next post I'll highlight what Levitin calls the social networking addiction loop (yep, it's a phycological addiction) and how to combat distractions and the sugar-short-term-high they give us.
Bottom line: Facebook (and other online connectivity) is best used as a supplement, not a replacement, for in-person connectedness (Levitin,127).
Beware of falsehoods
Bottom line: Be truly careful of online gossip and what type of information you both share and take in.