Psychology Magazine

I R’ Us - a Waking Mashup

By Deric Bownds @DericBownds

When I am going through the daily transition from the last bit of REM sleep to having an awake self I frequently find articles I have recently noted appear in mind in an associated cluster. Thus the title of this post, which tries to point to our delusion that each of us is a tidy "I" that is running its own show. The chunks that come together are:

1). A review by Ezenwa et al. as well as an excellent article by Michael Specter in The New Yorker ('Germs are Us') discuss the microbiome of bacteria, viruses, and fugi whose cells vastly outnumber our own and whose genes outnumber our own by least 100 times. These 'invaders' influence not only our behavior but also our physiology and resistance to disease. We are being managed by a much larger ensemble of creatures than the "I" that writes or reads these lines.
2). A piece by Paul summarizes the powerful effect that social factors and stereotypes can have on our performance. And finally,
3).Nick Bilton writes on how our social boundaries and privacy are being erased as people are watching and reporting on us on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Path and an interminable list of other social networks. Our identities diffuse into the public sphere, and we don't get to choose what show we are going to be on...
The common thread here is the message that our lives are being run by a vast army of creatures, microscopic to human size, that we usually take to be external to our "I".

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