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One of the first things we unlearn as a kid is to use the behavior of our friends as an excuse for our own poor decisions. “But [enter adult person here], [insert name of friend here] was doing it too!” What would a world look like in which this excuse was actually acceptable for use by everyone? It may sound uncomfortable, but let’s face it: we never really grow out of this phase.
Doing things because others are doing it is typically human. Denying that that’s what you do and making up complicated and rational motivations for your actions is only typical for adult humans. The fact is that doing things together with other people makes them easier and more fun. Most of the things we do wouldn’t even make sense if no one else did them: doing your hair, going to work and standing on the right side of the escalator, to name a few. Would you still be doing these things even after everyone would have suddenly stopped doing and caring about them?
Eating, sleeping and playing video games are some of the few things that are rewarding, regardless of what other people do. They fulfill our individual needs, while most of our time we spend on fulfilling the needs of our communities. We want to look good (for others), be helpful (to others) and do well in school (compared to others). However, being the super-social primates that we are, it’s difficult to argue that a strict separation can be made between what we need for ourselves and what our communities need. More likely, feeling part of a community is one of our most basic needs as individuals.
So let’s talk about dental hygiene now. Yes, you read that correctly. Is flossing your teeth something we do to fulfill our individual needs, or our social needs? Well, obviously you are the only one that uses your teeth and the only person who suffers the pain in case of losing them. So clearly, brushing and flossing are things we want and need as individuals. On the other hand, they are not activities that anyone on the planet invented by her or himself: we we’re taught to do them by others. Research also shows that socio-economic indicators are very good predictors for an individual’s dental health. Although there may be people who don’t know why and how they should floss their teeth, many people hear it at least once a year from their dentist. However, a more serious problem is that even people who understand it completely still don’t do it. Our explanation for this sad fact about the human condition is simple: flossing your teeth isn’t fun. It is an unrewarding and brainless activity that is yet quite difficult to do properly. Also, how can we know that it is as important as everyone says, if we never see anyone doing it?
The Gridt is a quick fix for the latter issue. Since flossing your teeth will probably never be fun, we want people to be able to see others do it and pass on their good behavior to the next person. In the near future, everyone will thus be able to floss together, which is at least almost fun. In the end, it is in our own interest to remove the decaying remains of breakfast, lunch and dinner from between our teeth. Now it might seem a bit of overkill to battle dental plaque by building an entirely new social network. Fortunately (or unfortunately) there are always lots and lots of other things in the category of I-know-I-should-be-doing-that-but-I’m-not. Which one you start with is entirely up to you. By 2019, we should be familiar with social networks for chatting and cat videos, now let’s also have one for getting things done. Whether it is for our teeth, the planet or our communities doesn’t matter: everything is connected.
Title photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels