There was a morning on my ride to work, being stuck on the freeway, I started to think why we have so many brilliant technologies but we still cannot fix the traffic jam. Then I recalled a video explains how the traffic appears, and how self-driving cars could solve the problems. It turns out if all the cars on the streets are driven by programs, they could communicate with each other super efficiently. Comparing to a human driver, the programs are able to organize the traffic in a larger picture. And the traffic lights would even be not necessary at that time.
So this led my thoughts to a larger question as well. What restraints human society progress? My opinion is the efficiency of communication. And there are two obstructions, biological evolution and technology.
Let’s talk the biological evolution first. There are 7 billions humans living on this planet, however, we have more than 5 thousands languages. For me, my native language is Chinese, and I have studied English since my 3rd grade. After staying in the U.S. for 4 years, I still occasionally have trouble understanding others. At the moment, I always wonder why such powerful human brains cannot change languages as easy as changing on your cellphone. This frustration not only reminds me the diversity of human beings but also tells me how inefficiency we learn things.
Additionally, another weakness (or maybe a strength) of human beings is that our minds are not transparent, which passively created many negatives such as lies, crimes, even wars. In one of my favorite science fiction novel, The Dark Forest, the three-body planet aliens have transparent minds. That makes them be able to communicate with no language and so no restraints. In result, everyone in the three-body society could be scientists, engineers and astronauts because they can share the knowledge like we copy data through a flash drive.
However, from the perspective of humanity, I feel this “weakness” should be a necessary evolution step. This “weakness” created our personality, which made us human beings. Maybe in the distant future, with the more mature ethics and technology, the transparent minds could lead us further.
Well, the second obstruction, technology, especially the internet. Why would I think the internet barriers our communications?
With the development of internet, it changes our way to communicate. But Social Network Addiction is becoming a serious problem nowadays. There are many existing examples. In my college, one of my classmate had social anxiety disorder. He always sat at the last row in the classroom, got nervous when someone came to say hi and barely said nothing at group meeting. All of his social network was online. He was passionate, humorous and popular in an online game. However, he seems had none of those above in the real world. I believe the internet does relief some of our loneliness, but on the other side, it also might aggravate the difficulties of communications.
A big reason caused this problem I can tell is the fragmentation of time. It not only fragmentize the time but also our personality. On the internet, we would like to show just the part we want to show according to the society’s expectations. Meanwhile, we would only take the information which we feel it’s useful, comfortable or funny. We will “hide” the rest, and it is this “hide” action makes us more lonely and barriers the communications. Human beings are group living animals, we intend to getting close to each other all the time because our DNA wants it, but the issue is at the era of internet, the cost of communicating with people is too cheap. It is too cheap to approach a person as well as leaving a person. As I see it, this kind of fast-pace communication is incomplete.
In my opinion, the social network should not be regarded as a new way of communication, but just a great platform helps us finding the like-minded group of people. We still need to know and appreciate a whole person, and offer the sincerity, patience, understanding and forgiveness. Again in the distant future, I believe if human beings evolve somehow or the technology allows us to communicate with a “whole person” as a “whole self”, maybe our society can ultimately turn into a utopia.