18 Ways that Social Media and Technology Might Change your Love Life (Part 2 of 2)
Here are hypotheses 10 through 18 on how social media might change your love life. Click here for Part 1…
ASSORTATIVE MATING ON STEROIDS
Like marries like today. “Assortative mating” is one of the major marriage trends of the last 60 years. We marry people who are more like us in education, career, values and earning potential than ever before.
Online dating services will probably strengthen this trend. Random, face-to-face romantic epiphanies are still going to happen (hopefully), but now there’s the hugely popular alternative of online dating services, whose meticulous surveys can pre-screen out all of the “on-paper” unsuitable candidates, according to our abstract prerequisites and preferences. That means we can marry someone even more like us—or like our on-paper ideal—than if we relied on chance.
EXPANDING THE AFFAIR “GENE POOL”
Extramarital dating sites such as Ashley Madison expand the affair gene pool beyond the risky terrain of a spouse’s home community, office or neighborhood, for better or worse. Their search options remove one of the major social hazards to extramarital sex. A rogue can specify ZIP codes in which to search and find people beyond the obstacle-strewn, danger-ridden radius of a home base.
SELF-DECEPTION MADE EASIER
Online environments might make it easier to deceive a partner, but they also make it easier to be self-deceiving about what we’re up to, and why. Social media provides easy, entirely innocent pretexts for making contact with people whom we’d never be bold or presumptuous enough to call.
NEW WAYS TO HAVE EXTREMELY SAFE SEX
There isn’t much work on the non-pathological, non-addictive, non-exploitative aspects of online erotic life, but there is great potential here. No form of sex is physically safer than an incorporeal cyber-affair. I told a story in my book of a wife who had a cyber-affair and never met her “partner” in person, although they did exchange photos. Their correspondence deepened into an intimate, flirtatious exchange of fantasies. The online world she wove was very safe, empowering sex that overlaid, rather than intruded, on her daily married life. It didn’t ruin her marriage, and she thinks of it as the only genuinely mutual break up she’s ever had. Afterwards life went on, unperturbed by the online affair, which allowed the wife to have a trap door on her melancholy marriage without literally escaping her marriage through a physical affair, or divorce.
GOOGLING TO SWING
In the pre-wired age that now feels like ancient history, spouses who were curious about alternative marital lifestyles such as swinging engaged in cloak and dagger mailings and phone trees, or they risked the social embarrassment of venturing into adult bookstores and so on.
Google makes it risk-free to seek information, in the privacy of home. In the past decade, swinging clubs and swinging have increased, probably as a function of easy access to information, and the ease of finding fellow, curious travelers online, which also tends to normalize what might otherwise feel fringe.
THE ROMANTIC PERMANENT RECORD
As the new communications default, email and texting create a potential Permanent Record or transcript of an entire relationship.
Who knows what effects this might have on intimacy and romance. It could make conflict resolution easier. The timeless “He Said/She Said” argument is now “He Wrote/She Wrote” instead—and what’s more, you can read it right here in the permanent transcript. It’s like having a court stenographer to record the “evidence” for posterity.
Maybe the potentially indelible record makes forgiving and forgetting harder—or easier. Maybe self-consciousness that e-conversations could become a permanent romantic archive will encourage more mannered, considerate, humane and discreet behavior. Although to be honest I don’t see much evidence of that change on Facebook yet.
MULTIPLE LOVER AVATARS
Online games and multiple online lives and accounts allow for fantasy gender-bending, alter egos and avatars. No longer are these fantasy personae confined to our imaginations or our private lives in a journal. The fantasy avatars and alternative personalities can be played out in a virtual but interactive and in many respects real environment online. I’m not a gamer, but so I’m told.
VIRTUAL JANE AUSTENS
Okay, I’ve not seen any evidence of this yet, but, theoretically, the text-based social media world might revive a Jane Austen, 18th-century tradition of epistolary seduction in 21st-century technology. Maybe a potential lover’s capacity to distinguish “its” and “it’s” will outweigh his good looks in the evolutionary game of mate selection; maybe a woman’s charming use of metaphor will matter more than boobs... I can dream…
In online spaces we can have the paradox of anonymous intimacy. We can have intimate discourse without knowing or seeing the other person. Intimate conversation, oddly and probably consequentially, gets decontextualized from a face-to-face relationship.
International poker champion Liv Boeree teaches decision-making for Big Think Edge.
"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."
- The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
- Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
- Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Tracking project establishes northern Argentina is wintering ground of Swainson's hawks
- Watch these six dots move across the map and be moved yourself: this is a story about coming of age, discovery, hardship, death and survival.
- Each dot is a tag attached to the talon of a Swainson's Hawk. We follow them on their very first migration, from northern California all the way down to Argentina.
- After one year, only one is still alive.
Discovered: destination Argentina
Young Swainson's hawks were found to migrate to northern Argentina
The Buteo swainsoni is a slim, graceful hawk that nests from the Great Plains all the way to northern California.
It feeds mainly on insects, but will also prey on rodents, snakes and birds when raising their young. These learn to fly about 45 days after hatching but may remain with their parents until fall migration, building up flying skills and fat reserves.
A common sight in summer over the Prairies and the West, Swainson's hawks disappear every autumn. While it was assumed they migrated south, it was long unclear precisely where they went.
A group of researchers that has been studying raptors in northern California for over 40 years has now established exactly where young Swainson's hawks go in winter. The story of their odyssey, summarized in a 30-second clip (scroll down), is both amazing and shocking.
Harnessing the hawks
A Swainson's hawk, with tracking device.
The team harnessed six Swainson's hawks in July, as they were six weeks old and just learning to fly. The clip covers 14 months, until next August – so basically, the first year of flight.
Each harness contains a solar-powered tracker and weighs 20 grams, which represents just 3% of the bird's body weight. To minimize the burden, only females were harnessed: as with most raptors, Swainson's hawk females generally are bigger than males.
The first shock occurs just one month (or about 2.4 seconds) from the start of the clip: the first dot disappears. The first casualty. A fledgling no more than two months old, who never made it further than 20 miles from its nest.
By that time, the remaining five are well on their way, clustering around the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. Swainson's hawks usually travel at around 40 mph (65 km/h) but can almost double that speed when they're stooping (i.e. dive down, especially when attacking prey).
There's a strong genetic component to migration. As usual, the Germans have nice single word to summarize this complex concept: Zugunruhe ('tsook-n-roowa'), literally: 'migration unrest' (1). It denotes the seasonal urge of migratory animals – especially birds – to get on their way. Zugunruhe exhibits especially as restless behavior around nightfall. The number of nights on which it occurs is apparently higher if the distance to be traveled is longer.
The birds may have the urge to go south, but genetics doesn't tell them the exact route. They have to find that out by trial and error. Hence the circling about by the specimens in this clip: they're getting a sense of where to find food and which direction to go. Their migratory paths will be refined by experience – if they're lucky enough to survive that long.
Each bird flies solo: their paths often strongly diverge, and if they seem to meet up occasionally, that's just an illusion: even when the dots are close together, they can still be dozens if not hundreds of miles apart.
Panama snack stop
The Central American isthmus is a major bird migration corridor
They generally follow the same route as it is the path of least resistance: follow mountain ranges, stay over land. Like most raptors, Swainson's hawks migration paths are land-based: not just so they can roost at night, but mainly to benefit from the thermals and updrafts to keep them aloft. That reduces the need to flap wings, and thus their energy spend – even though the trip will take longer that way.
As this clip demonstrates, the land-migration imperative means the Central American isthmus is a hotspot for bird migration. Indeed, Panama and Costa Rica are favorite destinations for bird watchers, when the season's right. A bit to the north, Veracruz in Mexico is another bird migration hotspot.
It's thought most hawks don't eat at all on migration. This clip shows an exception to that rule: on the way back, one bird takes an extended stopover of a couple of weeks in Panama, probably spending its time there foraging for food.
So, when they finally arrive in northern Argentina, after 6 to 8 weeks' migration, the hawks are pretty famished. Until a few decades ago, they fed on locusts. For their own reasons, local farmers have been getting rid of those. The hawks now concentrate on grasshoppers, and basically anything else that's edible.
For first-time visitors, finding what they need is not easy. Three of the five dots go dark. These birds probably died from starvation. But two birds thrive: they roam the region until winter rears its head in South America, and it's time to head back north again, where summer is getting under way.
Both dots make it back across the border, but unfortunately, right at the end of the clip, one of the surviving two birds expires.
Harsh, but not unusual
This old lady is 27 years old, but still nesting.
While a one-in-six survival rate may seem alarmingly harsh, it's not that unusual. First-year mortality for Swainson's Hawks is between 50% and 80%. Disease, starvation, predators and power lines – to name just a few common causes of death - take out a big number.
Only 10% to 15% of the young 'uns make it past their third or fourth year into adulthood, but from then on, annual survival rates are much better: around 90%. Adult Swainson's Hawks can expect to live into their low teens. There's one documented example of a female Swainson's Hawk in the wild who was at least 27 years old (and still nesting!)
The Californian population of Swainson's Hawks plummeted by about 90% at the end of last century but is now again increasing well. The monitoring project that produced this clip has been going for about four decades but is seeing its funding dry up. Check them out and consider supporting them (see details below).
Migration trajectory of B95, the 'Moonbird'.
Not all migrating birds shun the ocean. Here's an incredible map of an incredible migration path that's even longer than that of the Swainson's hawks.
In February 1995, a red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) in Tierra del Fuego (southern Argentina) was banded with the tag B95. That particular bird, likely born in 1993, was recaptured at least three times and resighted as recently as May 2014, in the Canadian Arctic.
B95 is more commonly known as 'Moonbird', because the length of its annual migration (app. 20,000 miles; 32,000 km) combined with its extreme longevity (if still alive, it's 25-26 years old now) means its total lifetime flight exceeds the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
As many other shorebirds do, the red knot takes the Atlantic Flyway hugging the coastline and crossing to South America via the ocean.
B95 has become the poster bird of conservationists in both North and South America. A book titled Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 (2012) received numerous awards, B95 has a statue in Mispillion Harbor on Delaware Bay and the City of Rio Grande on Tierra del Fuego has proclaimed B95 its natural ambassador.
Perhaps one day the nameless Swainson's Hawks in this clip, fallen in service of their ancestral instincts – against the odds of human increasing interference – will receive a similar honor.
Strange Maps #965
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(1) 'Zug' is a wonderfully polyvalent German word. It can mean: a train, a chess move, a characteristic, a stroke, a draft (of a plan), a gulp (of air), a drag (from a cigarette), a swig (from a bottle), and more.
The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.
- Horseshoe crabs' blue blood is so valuable that a quart of it can be sold for $15,000.
- This is because it contains a molecule that is crucial to the medical research community.
- Today, however, new innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming horseshoe crabs for their blood.
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