TED Talk Tuesday: David Brooks says we are social animals



Want to know…
Why men drown at twice the rate as women?
Why babies imprint strongly with their parents?
Why groups are smarter than individuals? (I know, right?!)
Why 90% of communication is nonverbal?

Brooks tells us how we try to define people without considering that they’re more than animals. They’re emotional creatures with dynamic needs:

“We sent economists in the Soviet Union with privatization plans when it broke up, and what they really lacked was social trust. We invaded Iraq with a military oblivious to the cultural and psychological realities. We had a financial regulatory regime based on the assumptions that traders were rational creatures who wouldn’t do anything stupid.”

Yes, we’re complicated. Does that mean we should stop trying to make the perfect government? One that gives us what we want, but only when we need it? No. But what we must realize is that the whole reason we are striving, for the higher paying job, the better car, the nice clothes, and the attractive body, is because we want to connect with our fellow human beings. We want to be liked.

When we retreat into the safety of a house with a big lawn and try to create blocks of time to socialize, we are losing out. Our whole lives should be that time of connection, our every day should be the emotional experience of life.

The reasonable job we take, the stability we seek, the government program we expect will fix the financial system, they don’t truly work. Life isn’t stable, and institutions will never make us happy, unless we’re happy with ourselves.

Brooks reminds us that politics has a long way to go before we can assume it will connect to your community like you can. That it can help the community like one person should help another: Face to face, asking “Are you ok?”. Brooks says we have problem with this:

“We’re really good at talking about material things, but we’re really bad at talking about emotions. We’re really good at talking about skills and safety and health; we’re really bad at talking about character.”

When there is recognition that all that you do is based on emotion and your general desires are in other people too, you will begin to see that they are no different than you. And then, only then, will we truly value our community and change it for the better.

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