The Social Nature of Humans and Making the Most of It

From philosophy to neurology, from psychology to religion, from anthropology to biology, it has been argued that humans are, in their very nature, social beings. And who are we to refute than, when our everyday lives are composed of enjoying our friends’ selfies, investing in romantic relationships, looking out for the next generation, and even engaging in social media for good causes? The social nature of humans is embedded in our personal lives, the institutions and structures that govern them, our cultures, our histories, our belief systems, the way we acquire and share knowledge, and well, basically everything.

Including the very makeup of our brains. This fascinating finding in neuroscience has recently come up: our brains are inherently social. Neuroscientists investigated the human brain in its non-active state i.e. when the person takes a break and lets his brain rest. When a person has down time, his brain turns on a system called the “default network.”

According to Matthew Lieberman, a famous social psychologist and neuroscientist: “The default network directs us to think about other people’s minds—their thoughts, feelings, and goals.” Basically, whenever we try to chill out, our brains’ automatic response is to think of other people. This mirrors the history of our evolution as humans, since we all know that species which work well together have definitely shown more chances of survival. Interestingly enough, tracing the origin of our social nature is simply evolutionary.

But then again, through thousands and thousands of years, this evolutionary fact must have manifested in other things. For instance, in the way we experience pain. Social loss and social rejection may seem different from, say, bruises or wounds, but our brains seem to process them the same way. And here’s a good explanation behind that:

A broken leg and a broken heart seem like very different forms of pain. But there are evolutionary reasons why our brains process social pain the way they process physical pain. Pain is a sign that something is wrong. Social pain signals that we are all alone—that we are vulnerable—and need to either form new connections or rekindle old ones to protect ourselves against the many threats that are out there.

No man is an island, indeed. While we definitely have basic needs like water, food, air, and shelter, social connections may as well be in the same category. That’s what we can say for the way humans scientifically evolved as a species. Unfortunately, the way human society has evolved seems to be counterintuitive. Over the years, our lifestyles have grown to be more individualistic, partly due to the economy, partly due to technology, though other factors come into play. The point is this: we steadfastly seem to grow apart from each other, against our evolution and our biology.

These days, we seem to keep defying our social nature as we let our social connections dissolve. We could spend a long amount of time working our bodies off, forgetting whom we work for. We pursue our ambitions, sometimes putting aside our loved ones, losing our grip on the fact that we won’t have the motivation and inspiration to succeed in the first place without them. We convince ourselves to be content seeing each other as pixels on computer or phone screens.

BeepBeep Nation has an answer to this dilemma. It ironically reverses the current trend in technology of creating distance between people, and instead uses the very potential of technology in developing our social nature. By providing a platform to connect people who need help and people who can offer it, the BeepBeep Nation app seeks to give its users the opportunity to be as social as they want and need to be.

The provision of help through the BeepBeep Nation app requires an actual physical meetup between a requestor and a helper, so in addition to encouraging a culture of kindness, it also intensely promotes face-to-face human interactions. Since its very mission of making the world a better place functions on the basis of our social nature as humans, BeepBeep Nation urges us to make the most of it in our everyday lives.

The EMINENT token which fuels the BeepBeep Nation app is now available for sale. I’m sure it will take time to reflect on the social nature of humans, so while doing some philosophical thinking for yourself, be sure to check that out as well. My final two cents: it might even be better to live out your ideas through BeepBeep Nation. Instead of merely musing about it, let’s participate in a world that is truly more social than ever.

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Dare to Care: Why Helping Out is an Act of Bravery

In this world, to be kind is to be brave. It takes no effort to be comfortable in our own homes, binge-watching TV shows while munching on popcorn, cozy in our jammies and unbothered about the rest of humanity. But it takes a bit of courage to open our eyes and see those who need us, whether they are people on the other side of the world or people who belong to our own communities; it takes stepping up to be aware of our selfish conveniences and realize that there’s someone out there seeking help, with no one to help him or her. Just the initiative to feel for others is an act of bravery.

Now more than ever, the Internet has given us access to an infinite number of stories. Some say humans have never witnessed so much tragedy before; of course, these atrocities have always been happening and suffering has always been a constant in this world. Generations before us had to endure so much pain as well. But they never had the same access to the lives of others. Now, with just one click, you are able to read about everything horrible that is going on in the world. And as humans, we are not built to carry so much heartache.

Empathy is painful. Neurologically speaking, the pain you feel for yourself and the pain you feel for others seem to activate the same processes in the brain. This must be why it’s so easy to ignore the pain of others: it gives us the same pain, but it’s a pain we can avoid. After all, it’s not really our lives at stake. To be empathetic is to subject ourselves to hurting. This is precisely why it is an act of bravery to see the pain of others.

And what better way to express this courage than to actually do something about it? Not only are you being aware of another’s suffering, you are going out of your way to help alleviate it. To disregard one’s comfort in life is a very difficult task, but sometimes, helping others doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning yourself. Sometimes, there are ways to take the initiative without severely hurting yourself and challenging your pain tolerance. Sometimes, a simple act of bravery every now and then should suffice.

The BeepBeep Nation app has a mission of making the world a better place by encouraging people to be a little courageous every now and then. By providing a platform to connect people who need help and people who can offer help, it enables its users to do an act of bravery and improve their sense of compassion, with only a bit of effort.

BeepBeep Nation motivates its users to reach out to other individuals in various ways: by simply offering a ride to work or a place to stay, by simply answering questions in an accurate manner, by simply offering an extra hand during a medical emergency, and many others. Reaching out in little ways seems convenient, right? But like I said, a simple act of bravery at particular moments should be enough. Because a simple act of bravery through the BeepBeep Nation app can nurture a culture of compassion like never before. It can start a revolution of people being kind to each other and paying it forward (perhaps endlessly). So dare yourself to be brave and use that courage to care for others.

If you want to join BeepBeep Nation’s mission of motivating everyone to be kind, helpful, and brave, the app’s official website will help you every step of the way. Its fuel, the EMINENT token, is also now available for sale, so be sure to check that out to get started. Dare to care, and dare to see this for yourself: a world of kindness.

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The Science of Compassion (or Why It’s Really Human to Help Out)

Everyday, a plethora of stories arise on the Internet. A huge part of the content is probably fun, entertaining, and/or informational. Some, however, tell the tragedy of the world we live in. And if you read the news, you know that it’s so real. Other stories tell how people address that tragedy and do their share in alleviating the suffering of their fellow human beings. In our blog, we frequently showcase this kind of content — stories of people with exemplary acts of devotion and compassion or even people who do random little acts of kindness in their everyday lives.

Some people who enjoy helping out tend to do so for religious or spiritual reasons. And whether it’s Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, or others, the religions of the world do have discourses of compassion. Though I myself have always been curious about a different but equally important aspect of this human tendency: is there a science behind this?

I’m glad to report: yep, there is. A study done by experimental social psychologists tested how the experience of compassion affected people’s behavior. First, participants were told that they were supposedly part of an experiment about mathematical ability and taste perception. Ostensibly, these were the instructions: participants were supposed to solve as much as they can of 20 math problems, in which they would receive 50 cents for each problem they solved correctly. After being checked and getting paid, they would proceed to the taste perception phase. Here, participants were asked to prepare taste samples for each other by pouring extra-hot hot sauce.

It seems absurd, but here’s the catch. The experimenters hired confederates to pretend to be fake participants. Let’s call the first one Dan and the second Hannah. In one version of the experiment, Dan was asked to cheat badly and very obviously on the math problems, so that the real participants would see. Afterwards, in the taste perception phase, the experimenters noticed that the real participants poured bigger servings of hot sauce to Dan the Cheater. But doesn’t this show revenge instead of compassion?

Well, in another version, Dan the Cheater was asked to do the same thing but now Hannah was gonna play a role. Before the taste perception phase, Hannah would cry and the experimenters would ask why. She’d say she recently found out about her brother’s terminal illness. Increasingly emotional, Hannah asked to be excused from the experiment. In this version, even though the participants still witnessed Dan cheating, they did not pour bigger amounts of hot sauce in the taste perception phase.

What does this show? First, the compassion that the participants felt predicted how much hot sauce they were going to give to another person. And second, more importantly, the compassion that people feel towards one person can predict how they will act towards others.

This experiment is only one of many studies that are now delving into the idea and reality of compassion. Recently, a conference has even been held to discuss it, joined by representatives from different fields such as evolutionary psychologists, clinical psychologists who deal with children suffering from trauma, charity owners who conduct social and emotional skills workshops for the youth, and others.

Using brain scans, one doctor even explained how different parts of the brain are activated when people are in a “compassionate state” or “non-compassionate state.” So interestingly enough, compassion actually seems to have physiological, neurological effects.

But now here’s the thing. My personal epiphany, if you will. We can participate in all these discussions, conduct our own experiments if we’re in the field, compile all these data, but maybe it’ll be a bit more exciting to see for ourselves. There’s all this science about compassion, we know that. But somehow I think the reality of compassion can’t be proven by numbers. Tall order but maybe here’s what we can do: go out there, help people out, and prove it for ourselves.

If you are interested in reading more scientific information about kindness or compassion, here’s a list of various quantitative and qualitative studies about the topic. Then again, if you are more keen to join the action, check out the BeepBeep Nation app and this fun video on how to get started. You might be surprised at the many ways you’ll see how compassion exists.

 

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Less Invasive Epilepsy Treatment at Sourasky

Finding minimally invasive treatment procedures for significant illnesses have been the preoccupation of some of today’s medical breakthroughs, as exemplified by the research and development of light-activated methods in cancer treatment using nanomachines.

In Sourasky, minimally invasive procedures using advance laser and MRI technologies have been conducted in the treatment of epilepsy patients who are not responsive to medication. Offered in the neurosurgery department by Prof. Yitzhak Fried, Dr. Ido Strauss, and director of epilepsy service Dr. Firas Fahoum, it is the first time the procedure is being performed outside the US.

“If in the past we had to consider surgery in cases where the patient did not respond to medication, we can now make do with a minimally invasive procedure that is almost as successful as open surgery,” explained Strauss.

What made this possible is Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) technology. A small optic fiber is inserted into a small hole in the skull, and is then connected to a device called the Visualase system. While this is happening, an MRI scanner monitors brain temperatures and the size of the ablated tissue. Compared with open surgery, this procedure is more keen on preserving the areas of the brain proximate to the ablated issue and responsible for other bodily functions.

“Today, we know that the source of the disorder that causes epileptic seizures is found in neural networks in the brain and that the attacks can be prevented by proper medical treatment,” explained Fahoum. “In most cases, patients are given medication to try to control the seizures. But if this doesn’t help, it is necessary to consider neurosurgical intervention, in cases where the area where the seizures begin is located and surgically removed. But seizures come as a surprise and may cause cumulative damage to the cognitive and mental functioning of the patients along with physical injuries when they fall to the ground.”

The use of LITT, Visualase, and MRI technologies provides a less invasive procedure to the other surgical options such as nerve pacemakers and neuromodulation, as well as the removal of the seizure’s focal point. Moreover, the therapeutic option also provides easier recovery and may even be offered to children with epilepsy.

Hopefully, it is time we have more and more medical breakthroughs of less and less invasive treatment procedures.

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