I recently participated in a conversation that was initiated by a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. that goes as follows:
"For a community to really work, you shouldn't have to wonder what the person next to you is saying."

my friend, when giving examples of how we treat people differently based on our level of intimacy with them, said: "being super nice to your neighbor that you 'know' and then telling every driver you seen on the way to work to fuck off"

this hit me hard, mostly because it's so hard not to do. I absolutely hate some of the people driving on the road next to me, they do some of the stupidest things sometimes, but if it ended up being someone I knew that cut me off I would probably call them up and joke with them about it.

I think a big supporting fact of this "intimacy reduces conflict" theory is looking at the communications field, specifically Uncertainty Reduction Theory.

The theory asserts that when interacting, people seek information about the other party in order to reduce their uncertainty.

Flip that upside down, apply it to real life, and you will see that the less you know about someone, the more uncertain you are while interacting with them, the result is disingenuousness and emotional detachment from both parties. This happens when we are being seated at a restaurant, or greet the person next to us on the elevator (which 90% of people don't ever do anymore), or talking to a tech support agent in India at 2 in the morning. These things can bring out the worst in us under the right circumstances, and when that happens, nobody enjoys it.

These situations all make us feel and even act somewhat fake/artificial, and therefore less than human, as artificial is primarily defined as "of or created by humans". There's no mistaking that fact: we definitely created this for ourselves when we started letting our communities grow too big. We might not have realized where it was going, but the more we treat people like tools instead of people the more bad seeds we will be sowing throughout our society.

Contrarily, I think that we would not have came so far technologically if we hadn't came together like we did. The allowance of great minds to collaborate within intellectually powerful nations lead to all kinds of amazing discoveries, some of which we surely wouldn't have if we kept our communities to the size Kurt Vonnegut would recommend.

But would that be so bad? If we didn't have most of our technologies today, could we live in an intimately connected community where everyone around you genuinely cares for you? Theoretically, yes, and I would like to believe it is possible despite how difficult it is.

Technology definitely plays an ambiguous role in all of this, I definitely think it is a negative overall. It promotes anonymity, and I've posted about that before, which reminds me that I've indirectly posted about this before, just solely in the context of the internet, and not even in depth at all on here. I will copy and paste my previous writings at the bottom of this.

The other root cause of bad blood between people is just having to wait for extended periods of time when we all lack patience because our evolving technology strives to give us instant results. Congestion of population leads to all of this waiting AND inspires technologies that seek to provide instant gratification, so we expect things to come to us quickly because technology can adapt to that, but people usually cannot.

i posted this on facebook (of all places) a few months back, hopefully an interesting read to someone-

"I was thinking about why the internet is such a terrible place in anthropology yesterday, and I came to the conclusion that it has a lot to do with comfortability in the fact that (if you aren't some celebrity or internet sensation) no one really knows or cares who you are. Another way to put this is that pretty much anyone on the internet who wishes to remain anonymous, can remain anonymous, and anonymity effectuates general malice.

The internet is one of few places where you can literally say anything you want to any person available to message and you can do so with complete anonymity (not to the NSA of course, but you know what I mean). Even yelling something at a stranger and running away, you would still leave a voice to recognize. All you need to show on the internet most of the time is your message and a username, which can be so easily fabricated it may as well just be assumed that you aren't dealing with who you think you are. This is one of the biggest things that inspires "trolls" (people who purposely comment on things to elicit negative reactions out of other people) and other people who just say things to make other people angry or to start arguments. It brings out the worst in human nature, especially from those people who think that making jokes at people you don't know and/or getting them upset is 'fun'. The internet also brings you together with so MANY people from so many other places, you couldn't possibly be thinking you'll ever meet any of them. If you never have to meet someone, who cares if you make them angry, right? They don't have any chance to get back at you, except maybe over the internet (which really shouldn't be a problem for people, ignoring things is such an easy solution).

This also extends much further though, and there was a reason I was thinking about this stuff during anthropology that I am now remembering it as I write this, which is pretty cool: The lecture was about small kin groups at the band level, bands within a tribe who forage for food. Most members are related to each other and know exactly how they are related, as it consists of mostly immediate family. They would mediate their troubles and keep peace solely through gossip and bad-talking people who acted out of line; i.e. if someone was bossy or arrogant or mean, whatever, the others would scold them and look down on them. This person would then be bringing shame upon their family, which was one of the worst thing you could possibly do. Because they know these people so well and care about their opinion and redeeming the family, the arrogant or bossy person would change their ways to avoid ridicule, or in extreme cases, exile. They whole band needed to be cohesive in order to maintain their way of life, so they had no choice but to get along.

As societies grow bigger, you don't have the same relationships with the people around you. Some of us in todays world don't even know our next-door neighbors. I barely know the guy that lived across the street from me, who I think had been there for all of the 13 years I was. I know he's a mechanical engineer, and collects nice cars, but that's pretty much it. We don't depend on other people around us, we even have the mentality instilled in us that we should "make it on our own." This sounds like a good concept that would lead to a strong, independent person, but this mentality also often leads to lust, greed, and trying to get ahead of the competition though all means available. I know some people still act ethically and feel a moral obligation to their fellow man, but it seems that a (growing) majority do not care. Most people will be quick to put another person in hot water in order to advance their own agenda. This holds true more often in situations where the aggressor does not know the person they are harming, and does not have to deal with any consequences from causing them detriment.

This also seems to apply to the way we do business, and why so many corporations operate in other countries. Income inequality grows exponentially while we flourishing businesses put their agendas above everything else, and the growing number of poor and homeless people are hidden from sight. Numerous companies are outsourcing their labor to places that allow horridly unsafe working conditions just to save on their labor costs, but I bet that for some people it would be a different story if they personally knew every single woman and child that was slowly killing themselves in the factory manufacturing their goods."