Samir’s Selection 10/08/2014 (p.m.)
The Limits of Friendship >>>
“… using a ratio of neocortical volume to total brain volume and mean group size… a hundred and fifty…The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends…The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends…Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit-the people for whom you can put a name to a face. While the group sizes are relatively stable, their composition can be fluid… “What Facebook does and why it’s been so successful in so many ways is it allows you to keep track of people who would otherwise effectively disappear,” he said. But one of the things that keeps face-to-face friendships strong is the nature of shared experience…With social media, we can easily keep up with the lives and interests of far more than a hundred and fifty people. But without investing the face-to-face time, we lack deeper connections to them, and the time we invest in superficial relationships comes at the expense of more profound ones. We may widen our network to two, three, or four hundred people that we see as friends, not just acquaintances, but keeping up an actual friendship requires resources. “The amount of social capital you have is pretty fixed,” Dunbar said. “It involves time investment…a physiological aspect of friendship…touch… We underestimate how important touch is in the social world,” he said. With a light brush on the shoulder, a pat, or a squeeze of the arm or hand, we can communicate a deeper bond than through speaking alone. “Words are easy. But the way someone touches you, even casually, tells you more about what they’re thinking of you.”early childhood experience is crucial in developing those parts of the brain that are largely dedicated to social interaction, empathy, and other interpersonal concerns. Deprive a child of interaction and touch early on, and those areas won’t develop fully. Envelop her in a huge family or friend group, with plenty of holding and shared experience, and those areas grow bigger…We learn how we are and aren’t supposed to act by observing others and then having opportunities to act out our observations ourselves. We aren’t born with full social awareness, and Dunbar fears that too much virtual interaction may subvert that education. “In the sandpit of life, when somebody kicks sand in your face, you can’t get out of the sandpit. You have to deal with it, learn, compromise,” he said. “On the internet, you can pull the plug and walk away. There’s no forcing mechanism that makes us have to learn.” If you spend most of your time online, you may not get enough in-person group experience to learn how to properly interact on a large scale-a fear that, some early evidence suggests, may be materializing… “It’s quite conceivable that we might end up less social in the future, which would be a disaster because we need to be more social—our world has become so large” Dunbar said.”
My Absent Father – Jane Smiley >>>
Cold Front – Jane Smiley >>>
The Best Possible Day >>>
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