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As technology makes things easier and quicker, we become much more disconnected as a society. People are surrounded by even more people which generally dilutes personal contact. There’s reason for that, but there’s also reason to fight that urge.

Anthropologists can provide some insight. Dunbar’s number theorizes a cap on the number of stable social relationships humans can maintain, based on evidence of human interactions over for a long period of time. This theoretical cap is about 150 people for each “tribe.” The theory is that for thousands of years, humans reached about a 150 person cap beyond which there was too much internal struggle, so tribes disbanded and then grew to around the cap. Subsequent studies are consistent with this theory and have shown that average human brains can only manage around 150 interpersonal relationships.

Researchers have also studied the reverse phenomenon and have found that humans are not meant to be lone creatures. We thrive with social interaction. Social interaction can boost energy, create new ideas, and foster partnerships that are mutually beneficial. Isolation provides none of these benefits. While technology can make communication easier, studies have shown that we are programmed to recognize and communicate with faces. Additionally, technology comes with the temptation to have shallow relationships with tons of people. But according to Dunbar and his successors, we are unable to maintain solid relationships with our hundreds of social media contacts.

So what does all of this mean? It is time we take tech out of our lives and interact face to face with our friends, families and even acquaintances. Becoming more social can go a long way to improving one’s health. Don’t email when you can text someone, don’t text someone when you can call them, and don’t call someone when you can stop by and meet face to face.

If for some reason you’re sick or in isolation, catch 30-45 minutes of TV with some familiar faces. Studies have shown that your mind will associate the faces of people on TV with your “tribe” and give you the mental connection of being around people. The law of diminishing returns is huge here though, unfortunately. Anything over 30-45 minutes and your brain starts to rot away. Save this technique for emergencies only!

Either way, interact face to face, with no interruptions, with someone you care about for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have anyone like that around, introduce yourself to someone new and meet some new tribe members.

Find your tribe and prioritize face time.

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