But, what is a social biome exactly? The concept of social biomes was coined by a University of Kansas Communications Studies professor – Dr Jeffery Hall. He postulates that our social interactions form an ecosystem similar to the microbial one in our gut. Essentially, in order for us to feel healthy and well nourished, this internal ecosystem needs to be well-balanced. Too much of something and we feel queasy and unwell; too little and our bodies tell us to do something about it.
According to Dr Hall, the same goes for our social interactions. The social biome consists of the individual network or ecosystem of relationships and personal interactions that make up our social experiences. According to Dr Hall, this unique ecosystem contributes significantly to how our social lives shape our emotional, psychological, and even physical health.
According to the social biome concept, people only require a couple of meaningful daily interactions while also taking some alone time for themselves. Just like the balance needed in the gut, we also need to balance our social activities with the need for solitude in order to maintain a healthy balance in our lives.
But the social biome concept looks at more than how much time we spend engaging with others versus how much of our day we spend alone. It also considers the quality of those engagements and how we communicate with others.
Ultimately, a person’s social biome can be seen as the intricate web of interactions, relationships, and communications we share with others. Things get interesting, though, when we look at how healthy these complex ecosystems are and when we try to understand how these social biomes interact with our lives.