Last week’s post explored how social networks connect people. Operating as their own organisms, these networks are strongest and most helpful to the people within them when network connections carry love – altruism, reciprocity, trust, sympathy, compassion and generosity. Because we can’t find objective truth, or a definite reality in which we exist, what really binds us together and defines our reality are our sympathies and our social bonds. In a sense, love is the only reality. In many ways, we exist only because of our relation to other people and other things. Now, let’s look past the connectors (people) to the connections themselves and try to see just the lines between the dots, our social bonds.
(Click on the images to go to their source)
“There is no true person unless there are two entering into communication with another. The isolated individual is not a real person. A real person is one who lives in and for others. And the more personal relationships we form with others, the more we truly realize ourselves as person.”
-English Orthodox Bishop and Oxford Theologian Kallistos Ware
Social bonds exist not just between individuals; they are actual parts of our social networks. These bonds give our networks structure and energy. They act as some of the strongest personal motivators in existence and are not easily broken. The movie “The Corporation” makes this clear, asking the question, “What makes good people do bad things on behalf of some corporations?” The answer is the same thing that made the Grinch give back Christmas – our social bonds.
All connections are just energy in some form, and connections are everywhere and in everything – including ourselves. We know everything is made up of atoms, and atoms are almost entirely composed of the space between particles. Then, from atoms to molecules to organs to human beings to social networks we are, strikingly, unconsciously part of – and somewhat controlled by – this series of networks. This continues on to ecosystems, planets, solar systems, etc.
Art is the connections that exist between images and our senses, such as a shirt being loud or something sounding sweet. The golden ratio is an expression of the relative nature of art and science.
Einstein’s theory of relativity states something similar. It explains gravity connecting things as well as the interaction of space and time. Everything is connected, or relative. And e=MC2 literally means that all matter is energy; even the smallest amount of matter is an unimaginable amount of energy. Seen together, everything is energy and everything is connected, operating with varying waves and vibrations.
Back to social networks, our connections are everywhere and exponentially outnumber us. They can be carrying love or hate, positivity or negativity. We can literally create atmospheres of love or social environments that feel toxic.
We just discovered that connections can overpower us; they are predictive of 70% of our behavior. But just because love is binding us together doesn’t mean that we can stop acting for ourselves.
Some people consciously manipulate social networks and restrict connections (Union busting and Middle Eastern tyranny are prime examples of this type of action). Our networks can unconsciously hurt us as well. Rioting Penn State students were likely just trying to show their love and loyalty, but they were tragically misguided. The students in question were allowing their hearts and the connections between them to trump their brains, which were hopefully telling them that their coach has flaws. If people don’t stand up and speak up for what they believe, then our networks can become dangerous places. This is no small task, because social networks will react to individuals who introduce damaging truths or behaviors.
The good news is that we have far more influence than we realize, and standing up for your beliefs can be contagious both for yourself and others. Plus, there seems to be a natural equilibrium of fairness within our networks and a demand for natural balance and harmony within ourselves. Thinking and acting for yourself can be scary, but it’s critical to the well being of your social network, which thrives on openness and honesty. To heal a network that cycles negativity (be it civil war or family feuds), try honesty and forgiveness.
Suddenly, lessons from childhood ring true:
“Your integrity is paramount, protect it at all costs.” – Dad
“Know thyself.” – Mom (and a many other)
“Trust in yourself, do what’s right.” – Suz (Godmother)
“Be your own best friend, don’t beat up on yourself.” – Me
90% of life is showing up.
Remember, the only reality we know is the one that socially binds us together, most likely with love . You and your social network need strong, loving, independent influences. So be as good to yourself as possible and be the person we all need. Then invest some love into your social networks, it will compound and come back to you – especially because the number of connections in our world is exploding.