J.D. Hager

JDHager

Biologists define social behavior as one organism interacting with another member of its own species. Humans are very social animals that interact with other members of our own species all the time. And I don’t even want to think about how many more social interactions we can engage in these days with the advent of social media.

Social evolutionists have divided all these social behaviors into four basic categories, based on whether the behavior is good or bad for the organisms involved. Social behavior can be either a benefit or a cost for the organisms: that means good or bad for you, and good or bad for the other person.

Let’s start with lowest, most despicable, category of behavior: spite. Spite is going out of your way to ruin someone else’s day, and benefits nobody.

The second-lowest category of social interaction is called selfish. This benefits you at the cost of the other person, and sometimes this seems to be the most prevalent of human social behaviors. Oftentimes, behavior that seems spiteful may actually be selfish, as some people make themselves feel better by making others feel bad.

Next on the list is altruistic behavior. This is when you go out of your way to help another, sometimes to the extent that you may risk your own life. While this is noble in the eyes of many, it is still not considered the highest form of social behavior, because it still only benefits one of the two organisms.

Finally, the most evolved and beneficial type of social behavior is: cooperation. Cooperation is good for both organisms so that everyone benefits. Cooperation is you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Cooperation is teamwork and working toward a common goal. Cooperation allows organisms to achieve things far greater than they could ever achieve by themselves. Cooperation is truly the highest and most evolved type of social behavior.

So today, when you’re interacting with other members of your own species, whether on social media or in person, ask yourself where your behavior lies. Are you being spiteful or selfish? Are you being altruistic or cooperating? You really can make the world a better place one social interaction at a time.

With a Perspective, I’m J.D. Hager.

J.D. Hager is a writer and middle school science teacher.

JDHager

Biologists define social behavior as one organism interacting with another member of its own species. Humans are very social animals that interact with other members of our own species all the time. And I don’t even want to think about how many more social interactions we can engage in these days with the advent of social media.

Social evolutionists have divided all these social behaviors into four basic categories, based on whether the behavior is good or bad for the organisms involved. Social behavior can be either a benefit or a cost for the organisms: that means good or bad for you, and good or bad for the other person.

Let’s start with lowest, most despicable, category of behavior: spite. Spite is going out of your way to ruin someone else’s day, and benefits nobody.

The second-lowest category of social interaction is called selfish. This benefits you at the cost of the other person, and sometimes this seems to be the most prevalent of human social behaviors. Oftentimes, behavior that seems spiteful may actually be selfish, as some people make themselves feel better by making others feel bad.

Next on the list is altruistic behavior. This is when you go out of your way to help another, sometimes to the extent that you may risk your own life. While this is noble in the eyes of many, it is still not considered the highest form of social behavior, because it still only benefits one of the two organisms.

Finally, the most evolved and beneficial type of social behavior is: cooperation. Cooperation is good for both organisms so that everyone benefits. Cooperation is you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Cooperation is teamwork and working toward a common goal. Cooperation allows organisms to achieve things far greater than they could ever achieve by themselves. Cooperation is truly the highest and most evolved type of social behavior.

So today, when you’re interacting with other members of your own species, whether on social media or in person, ask yourself where your behavior lies. Are you being spiteful or selfish? Are you being altruistic or cooperating? You really can make the world a better place one social interaction at a time.

With a Perspective, I’m J.D. Hager.

J.D. Hager is a writer and middle school science teacher.

JDHager

Biologists define social behavior as one organism interacting with another member of its own species. Humans are very social animals that interact with other members of our own species all the time. And I don't even want to think about how many more social interactions we can engage in these days with the advent of social media.

Social evolutionists have divided all these social behaviors into four basic categories, based on whether the behavior is good or bad for the organisms involved. Social behavior can be either a benefit or a cost for the organisms: that means good or bad for you, and good or bad for the other person.

Let's start with lowest, most despicable, category of behavior: spite. Spite is going out of your way to ruin someone else's day, and benefits nobody.

The second-lowest category of social interaction is called selfish. This benefits you at the cost of the other person, and sometimes this seems to be the most prevalent of human social behaviors. Oftentimes, behavior that seems spiteful may actually be selfish, as some people make themselves feel better by making others feel bad.

Next on the list is altruistic behavior. This is when you go out of your way to help another, sometimes to the extent that you may risk your own life. While this is noble in the eyes of many, it is still not considered the highest form of social behavior, because it still only benefits one of the two organisms.

Finally, the most evolved and beneficial type of social behavior is: cooperation. Cooperation is good for both organisms so that everyone benefits. Cooperation is you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Cooperation is teamwork and working toward a common goal. Cooperation allows organisms to achieve things far greater than they could ever achieve by themselves. Cooperation is truly the highest and most evolved type of social behavior.

So today, when you're interacting with other members of your own species, whether on social media or in person, ask yourself where your behavior lies. Are you being spiteful or selfish? Are you being altruistic or cooperating? You really can make the world a better place one social interaction at a time.

With a Perspective, I'm J.D. Hager.

J.D. Hager is a writer and middle school science teacher.

JDHager

We took my mother to the neurology department for memory testing recently, and the doctor explained that memory is like a table where you keep your stuff. People with excellent memories have large tables, maybe even entire storage units with shelves and cubbies and labels. As we grow older the size of our memory tables shrink. This is an unfortunate and natural side effect of aging, and even the most cognitively gifted can expect their memories to fade somewhat over time.

For many people with dementia the table has almost disappeared. When there's no table to put your memories on they fade into the ether, gone. Occasionally they resurface at unexpected moments, but most simply evaporate into the cluttered recesses of the brain.

My mom's table is shrinking every day, and it's getting harder for her to maintain her independence, which she tells us is all she wants in life. When we received the diagnosis we feared more than all others – Alzheimer's – we didn't want to believe it. In fact, my mother still doesn't believe it. If we tell her she has Alzheimer's, she denies it. She can't even remember that her memory is shot. We realize her days of living independently are spiraling to a sad conclusion, but are also experiencing a bit of denial ourselves.

But despite the fact that her memory is disappearing, she is still Mom. She talks and acts much like always, sometimes enough to almost make you forget about her dementia, but those lucid moments are becoming increasingly rare. The truth is Alzheimer's cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed, but that isn't even the worst part.

We are told there will be a point when she will look at us like strangers. What will be left after her memories are gone? Is it memories that make us who we are, or is there something else beyond our lifetimes of collected experience? Tomorrow, I may have some answers, but right now all I have are questions, and, of course, my memories of mom's memory.

And, no matter how important memory is, some things we wish we could forget.

With a Perspective, I'm J.D. Hager.

J.D. Hager is a middle school science teacher.