- Matt Ridley (1998), Zoologist & Science Writer
Babies instinctively know what is most important to human survival: connection. The little ones unable to connect emotionally with a caretaker fail to thrive. But emotional connectivity skills need constant maintenance throughout life and different skills are needed throughout different life stages. A baby's sustained gaze with eyes, bright like little lights hooks you in. Eye contact is the base of all in-vivo human connection. But a ten year old that hooks you with his eyes needs to do more to maintain the connection.
Human connections, of course, go way beyond person to person emotional communicating. We are the most complex social beings on the planet. Our web of connectedness is vast, intricate and so tied to our humanity that a person not securely connected experiences the negative physical systems of extreme loneliness. Today, humans are forging more and more virtual connections that are productive and time consuming. But real life connections seem to be decreasing. This trend cannot be blamed on technology. But may be, at least partly, linked to the way our living spaces have been structured.
Since the 1950's, when William Levitt and his brother Alfred, designed the first American suburb, Levittown, with long term mortgages and community pools, live connections in the United States have become increasingly trite. As people moved from urban centers, day to day contact with others decreased substantially, especially for women.
With increased physical distance other forms of human connection decrease. Now with the Internet, where you live matters less in so many ways, but connections based solely on technology do not meet a person's human emotional needs. As we become more connected through technology, people with means will choose to live physically closer to other humans, not only to meet their emotional needs for human contact but to increase the capacity of their creative pursuits. Sprawling suburbs, and especially the more recent McMansions, are on their way out of popularity. People want to see each other face to face, more often, and for longer periods of time. Cities are back.