Book Review: Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect by Matthew D. Lieberman

Liberman proposes that we are wired to be social, that interacting with others, mirroring them, and feeling their pain and our own are an integral part of our neural systems. He goes on to prove his argumentation through his studies and those done by others. Yet he doesn’t give a one-sided argument. Instead, he considers studies that show we are wired differently.

Our brain to be wired socially makes sense if you consider the survival of the group. But we don’t actually live anymore in hunter-gatherer societies or close farming communities. We live in big cities, where one has become somewhat faceless and power dynamics are far and obscure, yet our brains haven’t changed. They still like to punish or, at least, frown upon those who take advantage of others. But sadly, as Liberman proposes, we are growing apart from each other. We value individuality and surviving on our own (even our building designs promote that) and at the same time, mental health issues and other social issues have skyrocketed. And it is not because of the failings of one person. It is because of our culture and its values and pursuits. And here, the book steps in. The last chapter handles how we should change our communities to cater to our socially wired brain that needs and feeds from social interactions. Even a simple thing, as looking at a boyfriend’s photo in a painful situation makes us feel less pain. No duality here. We are social, and Liberman is set to prove and advocate for it.

I enjoyed the book enormously. So much that I want to reread it and remember all those things I somehow skipped or forgot. I have nothing to complain about. Okay, maybe I should say that some hypotheses were taken for granted along with basic assumptions. But this is not a scientific paper. This is a case for our societies to value and stress the importance of our social mind and use the information about how our brains work to better things, like our school system. (Liberman suggests how we should alter our education to engage our students and make them want to learn.) Wonderful book!

Thank you for reading! Have a beautiful day ❤

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