Humans are wired through millions of years of evolution to be social creatures. Faced with the COVID-19 virus, can we stay connected at a distance?
Since our evolutionary split from chimpanzees around 7 million years ago, humans have become increasingly dependent on complex social cooperation to survive and thrive. People sometimes think of humans as fundamentally selfish or violent, but anthropological research shows that we have evolved to work cooperatively and live in supportive communities.
Thanks to COVID-19, that evolved tendency is now being strained.
As a result of humanity’s evolution for social tendencies, we have a problem: loneliness. This feeling may act as a driver to pull people back together, much as thirst makes people drink and hunger makes people eat. But it has negative consequences to…
But can we entirely override our long-programmed interactive cooperation and replace it with distant cooperation? Will virtual interaction be a suitable replacement in fulfilling the need for physical interaction? It remains to be seen.George M. Leader, “Why Social Distancing Feels So Strange” at Sapiens
Reality check: We’re doing it now.
In Canada, social distancing is going just fine. Most Canadians like distance. (Don’t live in Canada if you don’t. Check a map first.)
So the worry is that we are more social than chimps and therefore can’t handle social distancing? Seriously, the big difference between being a human and being a chimp is that humans can actually decide to do something based on reason. It comes of having an intellect, something Darwinian evolution has never been able to assimilate.
No virus has changed that fundamental difference between humans and chimps and COVID-19 won’t be the first.
Meanwhile, “evolution” demonstrates just about any familiar truism and its opposite.