Our highly social species has been behaving strangely of late, and this has been noted in a flurry of recent hand-wringing articles wondering whether technology is changing our nature. The cover of the Atlantic asks whether Facebook is making us lonely, and the New York Times bemoans "The Flight From Conversation."
The authors observe what many of us have experienced: Friends invite us to get together only to spend the time texting other friends or tweeting. Everywhere, people are ignoring those in their physical vicinity so they can hold court with acquaintances farther away.
One unlikely source of insight into this bizarre situation comes from our cousins the monkeys. In his new book "Games Primates Play," evolutionary biologist Dario Maestripieri makes the case that people are using technology to do what comes naturally to the human species -- not to converse but to compete for status.