Chapter Seven: The Internet

II. The Groupishness Of The Internet

The Internet permits and even encourages the formation of groups entirely at the wish of the individual.

Previous inventions have been helpful in supporting groups: radio and television provide groupish programming; books often appeal to groups; and magazines are quintessentially groupish. But only the Internet provides such a ready means of forming groups, of enhancing communication between group members, and of allowing the development of a social environment for geographically-separated group members.

Groups are often called 'communities' on the Internet. Virtual reality communities such as World of Warcraft and SecondLife satisfy wholly unfulfilled human needs for social groupings, and are developing moral environments that are at least as complex as those provided in the 'real' world.

The importance of the group as a key building block, indeed foundation, of human society must not be underestimated. Although consciousness may have originated way back in animal evolution, there's no doubt that cognitive power, and presumably consciousness as part of that, expanded greatly with the arrival of social groups.

Despite the growing role in social and cultural development of institutions above the level of the basic human group, humans retain their groupish natures because they developed before external, over-arching social institutions became the focus of evolution, and genetically speaking, humans don't appear to have changed greatly in the last 30,000 years.