Monday, 16 February 2015

One Hundred Fifty Then Bust

Technology is a wonderful thing.
After posting yesterday I realized my blog has fingers in more pies than I remembered. It automatically goes out to a few venues. I should probably explain that I am still on hiatus from Facebook (and most social media, for that matter). It might look like I'm there but I'm not.

My sudden appearance is akin to a wispy puff of smoke like the proverbial ghost in the machine.
It would seem that technology is invading our lives everywhere we turn. Even this blog is being written, not by fingers incessantly hunting and pecking on a keyboard, but by voice command. It's rather interesting technology though it often tends to garble what I'm saying. Either that or I am mumbling like a drunken, gutter bound sailor after a despicable night of overindulgence.
Considering my predisposition for slurring when I'm tired, it's more likely the latter.
Here's an example: What I said was, “Hi, I am Ed.” What came out on the screen was, “High, I am like a kick in the head.” The machine is probably right, in the end. The technology, though, as much as it may be an extension of our memory (transitive memory) cannot pick up on nuance. It may be "smart" and it's really not that... smart.
Continuing on the theme from yesterday's post, Dr. Wegner has taken his study much farther than simply the venue of couples. He, and others, have continued research into the realm of optimal community size. It turns out shared memory in a community is optimized at 150. They have called this The Rule of 150 (go figure).
This rule of 150 extends to many groups including learning institutions, church organizations, corporations, neighborhoods, book clubs and house parties. Once a group reaches close to or over 150, some of the members of the group will become unruly.
Consider the example of W. L. Gore and Associates (the creators of Gor-Tex). Each time one of their factory units approaches 150 people, they split the unit in two creating an entire new building for the new unit. The company has been wildly successful for 40 years. W. L. Gore realized early on that any organization greater than a certain number becomes distracted, ineffectual and knowledge becomes shared only by peer groups rather than the entire organization. He just happened to note that 150 seemed to be the magic number, which researchers have since discovered. In his organization everyone knows everyone and knowledge is shared throughout each facility. In this way, Gore has created a large corporation of small, intimate, completely functional groups (tribes).
W. L. Gore and Associates has been rated as one of the top 100 places to work virtually since its inception.
Though it seems technological advances are allowing us to reach farther, in effect we're still bound by the same parameters we have been constrained by for tens of thousands of years (the 150 rule). Even anthropological studies show that smaller groups were more effective and the size of those groups seldom reached more than 150. Is it any wonder large communities begin to have undesirables? After reaching 150 people, individuals begin to feel separated from the community at large. They begin to feel anonymous. They begin to feel disconnected. They begin to feel overburdened and pull away.
They've gone into a form of separation anxiety and act out simply to be noticed. But, what they really need is a break from the group with a smaller, more intimate group. A sabbatical, if you will.
It would seem I am no different.
I tend to get wrapped up far too much in other people's stuff and forget myself. Thus the need for a mental holiday and a hiatus from social media. I, like many others, reach a level of mental overload and need to get away for awhile. It's a psychic break from technology and people to simplify things and bring me back around to being myself. I take these breaks occasionally. Sometimes it's for two days and has been as long as two years.
~shrug~ Who knows when stability returns (if ever).
Here's what I know. Technology, while enhancing our ability to communicate, has not enhanced communication. In the end it may actually be degrading our ability to communicate over wide swaths of society. With the overuse of symbols, acronyms and truncated 140 character thoughts, we may actually be turning ourselves into a society of B.C. comic strip cartoon characters where the small group understands each other and the message is lost on the grand scale. Alley Oop has nothing on us, Dude... right?
In modern society we all belong to a tribe. Our tribe. However our tribe hasn't the same collected members as everyone else's tribe. This is neither good nor bad because shared memory travels much more quickly in interconnected groups. 

But the intimacy and emotional closeness of the information is gone.

Instead, tribes are interconnected with everyone else's tribe. That is, your tribe is not the same as my tribe even though we are each a part of each other's tribe. Not so long ago your tribe was the same tribe as my tribe and everyone we knew were the same people.
Things seemed to function better then.
Perhaps that is the answer. Perhaps we should all split off into tribes and disappear into the wilderness.
Or perhaps we should just get off social media get to know our neighbors.