In 1989, a CERN engineer named Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web to help scientists around the globe share information. His invention eventually became one of the biggest revolutions in the way people communicate, but it’s far from the first. Humans have been creating new and innovative ways to share ideas and exchange information for as long as we’ve existed, connecting emojis and Snapchats to cave paintings and symbolic scratches in a deep history of humanity’s inherently social nature. Socializing is even built into our bodies: Modern research has shown that a lack of social connection can be as dangerous for your health as a heavy smoking habit, linking an isolated lifestyle with a long and varied list of maladies including heart attacks, depression, and cancer. And while the nature of our interactions has shifted dramatically since early humans first experimented with symbols some 100,000 years ago, at our core, we humans remain the same profoundly social creatures, always searching for new ways to communicate, cooperate, and truly connect.
To learn more about how humans evolved such communicative and social brains, check out the World Science Festival program “The Social Synapse: Neuroscience and the Roots of Human Connections.”
Research and writing by Albert Zhang and Laura Dattaro.
Illustrations by Sarah Peavey and Julie Rossman. Pieces of some illustrations are courtesy of Shutterstock.
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