The IQ and EQ of Social Networks: Getting Smarter and Happier by (Interactive) Association
March 12th, 2008

No longer than a century ago Gustave Le Bon said that mobs are by nature irrational, unconscious, angry, negatively gregarious and stupid. They were ready to praise effective leaders and to devour inefficient ones. They needed and they were offered heroes and gods, bread and circus. They had to be driven. And they were unsteady cars with lots of horse power under the hood. Classic mobs didn’t think by and for themselves. At least not at today’s level of collective thinking. They didn’t have the tools. They didn’t have the practice. They didn’t have the liberty. They were underneath the level of reason, often kept there by limitating authoritarian forms of elite governing interested in maintaining their grab on power. Elites that knew by then that knowledge is power. And that free gathering and effective communication spread the knowledge.

Now, every time I join an online social network and dive in, I experience a magnetic feeling of being pulled in. It’s always a pleasant feeling. More than that, I really feel smarter by association and I feel my horizon broadening. Heck, I even feel safer and happier. Social networks as adrenaline and endorphin-inducing. Picture that. Or maybe you already know it. As I was saying on Twitter these days, while I was heavily tweeting I lived under the impression that my brain was like a Christmas tree, brightly lightened by a vivid glittering storm of new people and ideas. I’ve been assimilated as a neuron in the huge brain of the Collective Mind. Those who do a lot of online exchange know that when they feel tired and that their brain is about to explode, that is only a sign of personal expansion and development.

And I though of evolution. With rough approximation, it’s like before the Internet era we were single cells swimming alone in the ocean of life. Online communication fused us together into the first multi-cellular social organisms. Or maybe it’s more than that: by connections, sharing and real time synchronization between people initially separated by time and space, the Internet gave us the first conscious social organisms: the social networks, and after that, by further evolution, the smarter mobs. And it’s clear to me that this is a two-way process: from the individual to the group and vice-versa. The individual adds value –- intellectual and emotional –- to the group and the group infuses the individual with the collective sum of values brought in by the other participants upon a pattern of organic mutual growth.

Dynamically connecting with his/her peers in real time, Homo Sapiens Interneticus finally follows at social level the model of the universal interconnectedness, perceived in all aspects of life, building for the future a more aware and fully integrated social corpus.

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