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What is Neophilia
The term Neophilia was popularized by the American novelist, essayist and psychologist Robert Anton Wilson and defines a strong affinity or obsession with novelty. Neophiles (which are the opposite of neophobes), are people with specific characteristics, such as rejection of repetition or a tendency to get bored.
We must emphasize, however, that Neophilia goes far beyond the materialor a concept that defines a lover of new technologies. It is about the compulsive search for new experiences, new things that surprise us, make us laugh and even the insatiable will to find things that offend or outrage us. How many times do we click for pure curiosity or share news that gets on our nerves
? All this is Neophilia: the search for the new in all aspects of life. And, to a greater or lesser extent, we are all neophiles .
How is it affecting humanity?
Neophilia arises, in part, from new forms of communication, although as we will see later it is also caused by a certain model of production of consumer goods. Below we highlight a series of areas that have been affected by this new “disease” of the 21st century.
1. Capacity to process information
Internet access and new information and communication technologies have reduced our capacity to process information. On the one hand, we have eliminated spatial and temporal barriers (we can know what is happening in the other part of the world just at the moment it happens), but on the other hand we receive an indecent amount of stimuli and information that we are not even capable of processing. .
This has caused an overload of information that means that nothing surprises or moves us, and as a consequence we constantly search for new stimuli that transmit something to us, although we are rarely satisfied.
The perfect example is when we open our account on any social network and start sliding our finger or cursor to see new posts. Far from analyzing or carefully observing each one of them, we continue scrolling to see if the next one is more interesting. But nothing interests us anymore. Neophilia also encompasses that search for new stimuli.
2. Social and sentimental relationships
Social relationships have also been greatly affected by this new social trend. This search for the new leads us not to deepen our friendship or partner relationships, and as a consequence we have more superficial social ties . In the most extreme cases this affects the scope of the couple or sex.
The ideal example is found in the Tinder application, which allows us to establish a sentimental and even sexual encounter with little effort. Although the experience may be satisfying, that feeling rarely lasts.
- To learn more: Tinder: the superficiality and the dark side of people.
As a consequence, society is less and less able to relate face to face and has become dependent on these new means or mechanisms to establish a real or physical connection with other people. Although there are still no reasons for alarm, the trend is worrying.
The obsession with possessing or experiencing novelty can be seen reflected in today’s consumerism. From time to time (every time it is a shorter period) a new Smartphone model with more features or a new television with more definition is launched on the market. Brands and companies are aware that not having the latest model of something can generate a complex and they play with the emotions of the consumer, even in advertising campaigns.
- To learn more: The 10 manipulation techniques (psychological and advertising).
This leads us to the concept of planned obsolescence or the programming of the end of the useful life of a product. Although some say that this is nothing more than an urban legend, it is true that consumer goods become obsolete more and more easily and quickly.
Neophilia is changing the type of social relationships. | Image by: Waldemar Von Kozak.
What can we do to reverse the process? Promote social and responsible consumption, something easy to plan and difficult to apply. The whirlwind of consumption is broader than we think, we just need to check the rise of fast-food chains or the “expiration date” on the label instead of the “best before date”.
4. Media control
If we receive information without a critical filter and accept it without further ado, or if we are not able to react properly to stimuli, who says that the media cannot influence our behavior with extreme ease? Some say that we are sedated by the new reality shows and entertainment programs while we look the other way every time the truth is thrust in our noses.
This rescues the hypodermic needle theory, which is considered obsolete in some fields of psychology. This theory ensures that a message with a specific purpose (such as making us buy a product or change our mind about something) is directly received and fully accepted by the recipient. This could have a place in a society lethargic or weakened by Neophilia.
Where does Neophilia take us?
Perhaps the compulsive search for new stimuli drags us irremediably to a mental state in which nothing seems enough , or we may realize that the social fabric is fragmenting and we change our behavior.
There is no exact prediction in this regard. The fact is that Neophilia is something that we can check and even touch on a daily basis, even though it is a relatively new concept. The next time you find yourself looking at your phone screen without seeing anything, almost like a zombie, think about it.
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