In Dunbar on Friends I wrote about the different kinds of friends. In the Savanna Theory of Happiness, people living in sparse density areas and with higher frequency interactions with close friends are happier. Satoshi Kanazawa and Norman Li leverage Dunbar to basically explain we are happier when in smaller communities because our evolution has not yet caught up to our societies. Only… More intelligent people have the capacity to thrive in more dense areas without as much time with their friends.

I find this curious because it would suggest more intelligent people are extroverted. Pro-introvert researchers claim people who avoid social interactions are the more intelligent ones.


Friendship paradox

MIT Technology Review has an interesting article First Evidence for the Happiness Paradox—That Your Friends Are Happier than You Are:

The friendship paradox is the idea that your friends have more friends than you do, which turns out to be true for most people… The fact that people’s friends are more popular than they are may also explain another observation for which there is growing evidence—that excessive use of social networks makes people less happy. It’s easy to imagine that knowing that they are less popular than their friends makes people less happy. This has led to widespread speculation that the distribution of happiness throughout a social network might also lead to a happiness paradox. If happiness correlates with popularity—the being popular makes people happy—then this could be true too.

The source paper is The Happiness Paradox: Your Friends Are Happier Than You.

Malcolm Gladwell in Tipping Point talked about a type of person he called a Connector who influences new ideas through the association with great numbers of people. (Personally, I am a Maven who operates through talking about ideas and information.) I can see how a Maven like I am (and also an introvert and shy) could be intimidated or jealous of the size of Connector social networks.

My father knew tons and tons of people. Going out to eat at a restaurant required budgeting half to a full hour to leave because he’d have to talk to several tables with people who wanted to tell or ask him something. This was especially true when he occupied the director position of a city hall department.

It is interesting they are using Twitter social networks to measure size and tying tweet content to positivity / negativity.

Dunbar on Friends

Even Facebook can’t help you have more than 150 real friends

  1. We have about 5 people in our support group of closest friends. (aka Must Friends: a best friend, a member of your inner circle, a person you count on when something big happens in your life)
  2. We have about 15 more people in the sympathy group with whom we confide. (aka Trust friend: a friend who shows integrity, someone you feel comfortable with, that you’re always glad to see, but not in your inmost circle; perhaps someone you’d like to be closer to, if you had the time or opportunity)
  3. 50 more are are close friends (aka Rust friend: a person you’ve known for a long, long time; you’re probably not going to get any closer to that person, unless something changes, but a part of your life)
  4. 150 more a casual friends (aka Just friends: a person you see — at a weekly poker game, at your child’s school — who is enjoyable company, but you have no desire to socialize outside a specific context or to get to know that person better)
  5. 500 more are acquaintances.

Total: 720
And… we can identify about 1500 faces.

Me? I sometimes have about one person in the support group. My sympathy group is probably about right with 15-16 people. My close friends and casual friends are smaller than they ought to be with lots and lots of acquaintances.

Also, certainly people move up into a better category as we get closer. And others fall down into a lower one as we lose touch.

2016-MAR-08: Updated with the Buddy System labels

Good Friend

Several of the women I count as friends are single. Occasionally something happens where they complain about the challenges of having this status. When this happens, I usually feel guilt for having never attempted to date her.

It is some kind of weird hubris that in the moment, I feel that I could be the solution to her problem.

My normal doubt in my ability to be a good partner eventually overwhelms that hubris. In the end, I convince myself that I am actually performing her an enormous favor by not inflicting myself on her. I am such a good friend.