Waiting on: The village effect

Susan Pinker’s The village effect: Why face-to-face contact matters is published on September 4th, and I found out about it through one of Steven Pinker’s tweets.

I’m interested because I eyeroll so hard when anyone harps on about how looking at gadgets and screens is ruining everything, eeeverythiing.   I’m pretty sure the book deals with the topic on a different level than the tabloid write-ups about “parent checks facebook, misses offspring’s first public embarrassment” et cetera, though.  I really would like to know some stuff about… this… stuff.  (If there is a self-checkout line at the store I will always choose it, and if something can be done through a form instead of a phone call, that’s what I’ll do – but this doesn’t mean the topic of face-to-face interaction isn’t interesting.)

Sixty years ago the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote ‘hell is other people’. Now, new evidence shows us that he was utterly wrong. Beginning from the first moments of life and at every age and stage, close contact with other people – and especially with women – affects how we think, whom we trust, and where we invest our money. Our social ties powerfully influence our sense of life satisfaction, our cognitive skills, and how resistant we are to infections and chronic disease. While information about diet, exercise, and new classes of drugs were the life-changing breakthroughs of the past decades, the new evidence is that social bonds – the people we know and care about-are just as critical to our survival.

The Village Effect tells the story of the ways face-to-face human contact changes our minds, literally. Drawing on the latest discoveries in social cognition, social networks and neuroscience, salted with profiles of real people and their relationships, Susan Pinker explains why we are driven to trust other people and form lifelong bonds, and why we ignore these connections at our peril.

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