Welcome to karmist or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Networking

“the catastrophic lack of communal connection that many Americans experience”

These are the words spoken by journalist/author/anthropologist Sebastian Junger when trying to explain why he believes our society has become so violent, suicidal, abusive, and depressed. Junger poses some good questions in his talks and books:  Why do returning soldiers long for a time when they were being shot at and lived in harsh unsanitary conditions? Why did white settlers run off to join Indian tribes but not the other way around? Why does depression and crime plummet after terrorist attacks and natural disasters?

We as humans are wired for communal interaction.  We are genetically programmed to build meaningful relationships by helping each other and building trust.  Tony Robbins lists “connection” and “contribution” as 2 of his 6 core human needs.  Yet why is it that we are more “connected” than ever, while increasing numbers of people are feeling more dissociated with society than ever? How is it that we can have 1000 people on our “friends list”, but not know the names of our neighbors?

To answer this, perhaps we can glean an explanation by looking at another manifestation of human desires, our diet.  Our evolutionary past has also instilled us with a genetic drive to consume foods high in calories. For most of human history where food was scarce, this was an evolutionary advantage.  However, today where modern high calorie food is generally less nutritious and plentiful, this instinctive urge has led us to systemic health issues. In the same way, evolution has also programmed us to receive a dopamine hit when we form new relationships. For most of human history where our lives were spent in small communities and encounters were scarce, this was also an evolutionary advantage.  However today when we live in crowded cities with populations in the millions, and billions of other people are just 1 click away, our minds are often chasing “quick hits” with relationships with a bias of quantity over quality just as it does with junk food.  In both cases we can be paradoxically left with a feeling of excess as well as a lack of fulfillment.

karmist aims to swing the pendulum back to what may be considered a better balance.  At the time of this writing, the app is still in development.  We have no idea if people will adopt what we think of as a “healthy diet” version of social networking, where new school connections are made through old school ways of helping each other.  We certainly hope this is the case, as we truly believe that the effects can be transformative.  We plan on becoming dopamine dealers, but this is the good stuff which won’t give you a hangover.

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