In her surprising, entertaining and persuasive new book, award-winning author and psychologist Susan Pinker shows how face-to-face contact is crucial for learning, happiness, resilience and longevity.
From birth to death, human beings are hard-wired to connect to other human beings. Face to face contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives and make us happy. Looser in-person bonds matter, too, combining with our close relationships to form a personal "village" around us, one that exerts unique effects. And not just any social networks will do: we need the real, face-to-face, in-the-flesh encounters that tie human families, groups of friends and communities together.
Marrying the findings of the new field of social neuroscience together with gripping human stories, Susan Pinker explores the impact of face-to-face contact from cradle to grave, from city to Sardinian mountain village, from classroom to workplace, from love to marriage to divorce. Her results are enlightening and enlivening, and they challenge our assumptions. Most of us have left the literal village behind, and don't want to give up our new technologies to go back there. But, as Pinker writes so compellingly, we need close social bonds and uninterrupted face-time with our friends and families in order to thrive--even to survive. Creating our own "village effect" can make us happier. It can also save our lives.
Pinker (The Sexual Paradox) explores the powerful effects of face-to-face contact in our increasingly computer-mediated world. While the benefits of human contact may seem like common sense, Pinker's witty and informative book reveals a far more complex picture of these interactions. It may not surprise readers that having a web of friends and acquaintances makes both job-hunting and surviving the death of a spouse more palatable. But the biological effects that come from the community, and daily interactions with friends, partners, and parents are much less familiar. Pinker examines the benefits (and quirks) of these interactions, from development during breast-feeding to conversion disorder, and then repositions these findings to an age mediated by computer screens. In a time of constant visual entertainment and digital communication, "screens just don't do the trick" they can't compete with the emotional signaling and modeling of face-time. Educational videos have no significant effect on a toddler's language skills, and text messages of support have none of the mood elevating benefits of a phone call. Pinker's book ends with practical tips to make room for community and contact in life, and serves as a hopeful, warm guide to living more intimately in an disconnected era. 15 Illus.