The movie, “The Social Network,” which depicts the rise of the now infamous, “Facebook,” comes out this weekend, and it has many of us thinking about said website's extraordinarily speedy success rate. How is it that a college kid was able to find the right elements to put together a concept that would make him the youngest billionaire of his time? I have not seen the film, but I believe that what “Facebook’s” creator, Mark Zuckerberg, has capitalized on is a basic human need. The need for connection.
This same desire is also the basis for some of the world’s greatest art, including, of course, many Dave Matthews Band songs. If we turn an ear to the longing expressed in tunes like “Can’t Stop,” “Idea of You,” “Break Free,” “Fool to Think,” “Crush,” “Sleep to Dream Her,” “Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd,” and countless others, we catch glimpses of what it means to want something, or someone, with bone-chilling intensity. We can all relate to lyrics like, “I fall so hard inside the idea of you,” because they depict a universal phenomenon that touches the very essence of humanity. Those words, in particular, are remarkably apt to our experience of relationships, because they describe the process of projection, or our tendency to see in others those qualities that we cannot yet see in ourselves. This unconscious bias is at work when we idealize new partners for awhile, only to denounce them, and all of their idiosyncratic habits, later. What’s fascinating is that often times it is those very same attributes that we once romanticized, which subsequently drive us to distraction. And not in a good way.
Relief from projection occurs when we are fully in touch with how we feel about the different aspects of ourselves, so that we aren’t subliminally pushing traits, (both positive and negative), onto others. What also helps, however, is to understand the true nature of yearning, and why it is so necessary for our evolution.
It is my belief that we come wired with a craving for connection. There are many theories on why this is so, but the one that I prefer is the idea that this internal wish propels us toward health and well-being because it encourages us to grow and expand in ways that may not otherwise be possible. Without a burning desire for intimacy, there would be little chance for people to form bonds, especially in a society as individualized as ours. In addition, without this powerful force, many of us may never seek something larger than ourselves as a source of inspiration, and it is this spiritual seeking that not only adds great meaning to our lives, but also increases our capacity for peace and compassion on this Earth. In short, without this great need to fill our souls up, it really would all come down to nothing.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self