Facilitate Healthier Human Connections As A Lifestyle: The Biosocial Hacker Manifesto
Adopt the evidence-based approach to happiness most people ignore. Design your gatherings to generate mental health & social connectedness for humanity.
This manifesto is the birthplace of the biosocial hacking movement.
This is my philosophy for designing events and for combatting the rise of loneliness and depression in the age of technology. First and foremost, the purpose of this manifesto is to educate you about the findings of positive psychology and inspire you to adopt new social habits.
I propose one solution to two big problems in western culture: 1. The epidemic of loneliness and depression post-COVID; and 2. The migration to the metaverse and its effect on the quality of our human connections.
This is an invitation for every event producer, facilitator, meetings manager, and community leader to become a biosocial hacker.
Biosocial Hacker: a growth-oriented human who applies evidence-based practices to unlock the full health benefits of human connection for oneself and others.
You’re about to get inspired to socialize and convene more intentionally… After reading this, I hope you become one of us — someone who facilitates healthier human connections as a lifestyle.
The time has come to do things differently.
To establish new norms for our social connections. To create a new rulebook for gathering and socializing with fellow hominids. To change the social defaults which so often sabotage our well-being.
These are the goals of the biosocial hacking movement.
Why does all this matter? Because social norms delineate the quality of our human connections and… The quality of our human connections predicts the quality of our lives.
I want to back this up with positive psychology research and explain why this movement is important. Here is the current state of our human connections.
The Decline Of Communitarianism
Since the establishment of social media and rampant consumerism, belonging and social trust have decayed in North America. According to research reported by the Atlantic, interpersonal trust continues to plummet in America. And historically when this happens, nations fail.
A quick statistic cited in the Atlantic Article:
73 percent of adults under 30 believe that “most of the time, people just look out for themselves,” according to a Pew survey from 2018. 71 percent of those young adults say that most people “would try to take advantage of you if they got a chance.”
Since the industrial revolution, there has been an ongoing shift from WE to ME (thank you dear Instagram). Community involvement and civic engagement have been on the decline. ‘Getting ahead’ is common vernacular. People are hoarding supplies in preparation for the financial or institutional collapse (Google: Toilet Paper AND Covid). It doesn’t look like cooperation will win.
Have you noticed the shift from WE to ME?
Have you been to a gathering and observed that most people are there to show off their lives, not to connect with humans outside their clique?
Have you noticed that most videos on YouTube about motivation or success focus on egocentric instead of community-centric pursuits?
Have you scrolled through Instagram or TikTok and witnessed the epidemic of attention-seeking and external validation?
Have you felt the rise of ‘self-image management’ in how people present themselves online and in the real world?
Sometimes, it seems like we’re all trying to compete with each other on who is living a better life… doesn’t it?
Welcome to human connection in 2022.
This is what our ancestors did.
Our tribal ancestors were vibrantly socially-connected. They regularly came together and danced. They had rites of passage for youth. They raised their children communally, looked at each other in the eyes, took care of each other, shared rituals… and most provocatively, they defined success in collectivist terms, not individualist ones.
They were not preoccupied with individualistic achievement.
Take a look at the anthropological record, and you will quickly confirm the vibrancy of community life. How our ancestors embraced communal life and ritual is illustrated in countless records. In Dancing in The Streets: A History of Collective Joy, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich draws from anthropological research to conclude that communal rituals and celebrations are innate to the human species.
Ehrenreich describes the communal values of indigenous tribes and chronicles the decline of these values during industrialization:
In today’s world, other people have become an obstacle to our individual pursuits.
In Healthy at 100, author John Robbins explains that vibrant personal relationships were a conspicuous characteristic of the centenarian zones, including the Japanese people of Okinawa, the Hunza people of Pakistan, and the Abkhazians of Russia. These people shared experiences together.
Not only do they plant and harvest and eat together, but people share with their neighbors the experiences of birth and bereavement, of children marrying and parents dying. In this way, the community is able to take part together in the most joyous and frightening moments of life.
— John Robbins, Healthy at 100 (pg. 33)
People in these communities cared for each other.
In Okinawa, Hunza, Vilcabamba, and Abhkasia, there is a deep sense of human connection and social integrity. People continually help one another and believe in one another
— John Robbins, Healthy at 100 (pg. 284)
Tragically, as Robbins explains, western culture and modernity have reached even these remote peoples. And quickly, their cultures have decayed and they have ceased to be centenarian zones. Diseases of modernity have reached even these populations.
It’s disheartening, isn’t it? But it sure makes sense. The strength of one’s social relationships is known to predict longevity. And modern culture does not prioritize depth of relationships. It prioritizes personal gain.
Western culture has been plagued with individualism, materialism, and consumerism.
Why do I name it a plague? Because positive psychology research recommends we do the opposite.
According to landmark research by Tim Kasser from Knox College and Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester, the plague (individualism, materialism, and consumerism) is damaging our health and relationships.
They found that goals in the four areas shown below contribute to a higher sense of well-being. Goals in the three toxic areas increase the likelihood for anxiety and depression. These toxic goal areas represent materialistic, individualistic values.
In the words of Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections — Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression, “Just like junk food has taken over our diets, junk values have taken over our minds and made us sick.”
Junk values produce the mainstream social norms that reduce the quality of our human connections.
This is problematic because the healthiest thing we can prioritize is spending more time with people we love, face-to-face. Quality, non-absent-minded human connection is the elixir of life according to the Harvard Study and various meta-analyses.
Source: Dr. Emma Seppala
Biosocial hackers apply this research.
We are tapping the health benefits of human connection and enabling others to do the same. We know that the research on human well-being has proven beyond a doubt that relationships are more important to our health and well-being than our individual success could ever be.
Informed by the research, we believe… The authenticity and vibrancy of our personal relationships is the strongest indicator for a good life.
To live life to the fullest, we break free from mainstream social norms. They cause us to get sick and lethargic. They cause us to miss out on what’s really important in life: contributing to a community we love and sharing experiences with people we love.
We choose to prioritize the moments where we feel most alive. Moments where we feel heard, accepted, empowered, and ignited. These moments would not feel the same — and in many cases, would not even exist — without other humans.
These moments are characterized by vibrant, openhearted human connections. And this form of social connection is under attack by a virus. A virus of the mind — hyper-capitalist dogma and profiteering. Accumulate, control, and protect resources at all costs.
In the age of technology and loneliness, we see the need for an evolution of mainstream social norms. From individualism to collectivism. From solo achievement to community service.
As biosocial hackers, we facilitate healthier human connections to help advance this evolution. We see the creation of gatherings as the ultimate tool to help people adopt new social norms, which produce human connections that boost vitality and joy.
In our eyes, hosting events that catalyze new forms of human connection is a public health priority. It is essential to combat the rise of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, which COVID worsened.
And so, we host and design gatherings differently. We maximize the likelihood of nourishing connections happening for our guests. We refuse to use events to promote materialism and consumerism anymore. We are preoccupied with one metric.
The quality of our guests’ human connections is our primary success metric.
We take the science of human connection very seriously. The question: ‘How can we create an ongoing community? Instead of a temporary peak experience?’ echoes in our consciousness.
We are the next-generation conveners — people who host, design, or produce gatherings that unlock the health benefits of human connection.
Our practice of bringing people together in this way benefits our health and performance. It gives us a strong sense of community and aliveness. It benefits our relational health — and this is what biosocial hacking is all about.
Our efforts are not just for humanity. It is a biohacking practice to us.
The Biosocial Hacker Mission
We give the elixir of life — human connection.
The Biosocial Hacker Vision
Face-to-face human connection is the most commonly-practiced health habit and is prescribed by doctors more often than any other medication.
The Biosocial Hacker Way
We facilitate healthier human connections in our personal, social, & professional lives by being more intentional and innovative in our social interactions and gatherings.
The Biosocial Hacker Behaviors
We embrace the presence of others fully by turning off our phones, asking meaningful questions, and encouraging others’ expression.
We take risks by creating epic experiences and expressing our emotions, joyful or not.
We let go of our egos by giving up the need to appear cool or high-status.
We bring people together through celebratory rituals, dance parties, and sing-a-longs wherever we go.
The Biosocial Hacker Impact
By building communities for ourselves and others, we are combatting the epidemic of loneliness and depression in this world.
By spreading belonging and positivity wherever we go, we are giving normal people hope for the future of humanity.
By empowering others to become community catalysts, we are reminding every human of what they know intuitively…
Connection is what defines a good life.
Become a biosocial hacker, start facilitating healthier human connections for humans, and be a part of the solution to loneliness.
Could you do me a 10 second favor before you leave? If you’re feeling thankful, could you like or comment this article? What wisdom do you have to share with other readers? We’d love to hear your additions.
If you liked this article, you’ll like my blog about biosocial hacking. Sign up to get access to my first published video tutorial: 4 Principles For Facilitating Joy & Vitality In Yourself And Groups.
ps — I help innovative conference, event, & party planners unite and exhilarate their audience by applying the science of human connection. Do you know any who’d want to consult the professional party crasher?
Thanks for spreading healthier human connections 🧠
— Jacques The Party Scientist, BSc. Pharmacology
This is the fourth article in the biosocial hacker series. The first article “1 Health Habit To Rule Them All” introduces the term. The second article “10 Principles For Deeper Conversations” gives techniques. The third article critiques mainstream social norms.
The Biosocial Hacking Movement is about helping humans facilitate healthier human connections their lives, teams, and communities — so that we can together combat the rise of loneliness and depression in the age of technology.
Who am I?
My name is Jacques. I am the founding party scientist of biosocial hacking. I have led communal celebrations on the mainstages of festivals, within the double-decker buses of London, in the Zoom rooms of Fortune 500 Companies, and throughout public streets, subways, and beaches of 12 countries counting 🌎
During my Pharmacology degree, I worked as an emergency medic at music festivals for three years. Reviving dozens of young people motivated me to start a sober partying company called Party4Health.
Under Party4Health, I brought thousands of strangers together at hike raves, bike raves, beach parties, street parades, and even… underwear runs. All without a single city permit. Leading hundreds of parties, workshops, and gatherings, I learnt how to design and facilitate shared experiences, unlock human expression, and foster meaningful relationships and belonging.
Fundamentally, I am motivated by the public health benefits of meaningful human connection and community. I have dedicated my life to envisioning, engineering, and leading communities because I am alarmed by the degradation of mental health and human connection in western culture… due to COVID, social media, and mainstream cultural norms.