Hey Thoughty2 here.
How many friends do you have?
How many friends would you like to have?
Actually a better question would be
how many friends can you have?
In the 90th British Anthropologist,
Robin Dunbar looked at the correlation
between the brain size of different primates and the size of their social groups.
By extrapolating these numbers to the human brain size, Dunbar postulated that
the maximum social relationships anyone human can maintain is around 150.
Specifically, Dunbar found that
a larger species’ neocortex the top part of the brain,
the larger social groups that species can maintain.
This is because each human friendship requires the dedication
of a portion of one’s resources.
The resource of time required to meet with them occasionally,
so they don’t forget you exist
or vice versa.
The resource of memory,
you have to remember a huge amount of details about each one of your friends,
foods they do and don’t eat,
what type of films and music they like,
what angers them, what makes them laugh and cry,
what they do for a living, who their partner
or spouse is, who their friends are.
And then there’s the resource of emotional support,
at some point, all friends will call upon you
for your emotional support in times of need,
we all have a limited amount of support
and friendly advice to go around,
expand too much of it,
you will start to feel more like a shrink than a friend.
Put all these factors together and you start
to see how maintaining more than 150 relationships
isn’t possible for any human.
Some people can have a few more, or somewhat fewer,
but 150 is the general limit imposed
by our brains, our biology.
Look at the world
around you and you will start to notice Dunbar’s number everywhere.
Anthropologists believe that the largest tribal groups
in our hunter-gatherer days were 150.
And it still held true thousands of years later.
The Doomsday Book showed that the average
village size in England was 150.
The average number of wedding guests is 141.
150 may be how many relationships one can have but
in reality, there is a much, much smaller limit on
how many close friends you can have –
which may be a cause of a relief
if you sat there thinking,
“Wait, I’m supposed to have 150 friends, I have like 2.”
Well, calm down. Two is absolutely plenty,
because the truth is the limit is around about five.
In 2007 Robin Dunbar was back at it again,
proving we’re all terrible at knowing lots of people.
By examining the call logs from the phones of 27,000 Europeans,
he deducted that
people are realistically capable of having five close friendships,
including intimate relations.
In fact, for the average Joe,
80% of all their calls are made to the same four people.
But Thoughty2 I have 325 friends on Facebook
and my mate Dave he has over 700,
but I secretly think he’s a prick.
Well,you’ve just nicely illustrated my next point –
no you don’t,
because they’re not your friends.
Facebook friends are no more than numbers on a server,
go through your friend list and
you’ll notice that most of them are people,
you’ve only met once and will probably never see again.
Simply, friends of someone you once worked with,
or most likely, people you are supposed to be
friends with, but you secretly hate their guts.
None of these peoples counts as friends –
I wish I was sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not,
because if you genuinely think that
these are all close friends and not just casual
acquaintances, then you have truly undervalued
the close bond of a genuine friendship.
You can not truly consider someone a friend
unless you converse with them face to face on a regular basis and you can rely
on them to help you out in times of need
and vice versa.
Now, if anything I’ve said has made you doubt
your relationships, then you better strap yourself in,
使你对自己的友谊产生怀疑 那么 请做好准备
because unfortunately, I’ve got more bad news for you.
You see, it’s statistically likely
that half your friends don’t even like you.
A study at MIT analysed the relationships
between 84 so-called ‘ friends’ aged between 23 to 38.
Everyone was asked to rank everybody else in the study between 0 and 5,
0 meaning, “I don’t know that person.”
and 5 meant, “They’re one of my best friends.”
94 percent of people expected their friendships
to be reciprocated,
only 53 percent of them actually were.
That means that half of the people
who were supposed to be a participant’s friend,
said they didn’t actually consider
that participant to be their friend.
The sample size used in this study was very small,
but other data sources containing 92,000 individuals,
say that reciprocity rate of friendships
is actually between 34 to 53 percent.
This is rather sad.
And gives one cause for concern,
especially when a study from Harvard University
found that having no friends
can be just as damaging to your health as smoking.
But, there is a positive you can take away here.
You could cull half of your friends from your life,
and probably be happier.
This of course means that you have to first know
who the false friends are,
which is easier said than done.
So before you rock up to work tomorrow
and tell everyone in HR to F’off – which you should totally do,
by the way, it’s incredibly cathartic –
提一句 你当然可以这样做 但这属于极端的宣泄方式
you should probably think it over.
So how do you know who is only pretending to be your friend?
Well, there’s no secret technique here,
but one of the most obvious ways is to think
whether that person has ever shared a secret with you.
Sharing a secret with another requires
a huge amount of trust, which one would only do with
someone they admire and truly respect as a friend.
Also, when you are with your group of friends,
are you always the one they ask to take the picture？
If so, then, sorry pal, it’s probably you.
如果是这样的话 很抱歉 你很有可能就是那个假朋友
However, it’s likely that things haven’t always being this way,
and that reciprocity levels amongst friendship groups
have dropped significantly in recent decades.
This is because the perceived value of a friendship
has dropped with the advent of social media.
Today a new friendship can be created with a tap or swipe
and just as easily removed from our lives
In an online world driven by a vicious cycle
of instant gratification and gamification,
friends are seen as lityle more than points to collect
in the game of life.
When some people choose to accept a friend request,
the thought usually passes through that their mind of
“How will this make me look better”.
The problem is that this is anathema to why
Homosapiens evolved to form friendships in the first place.
Why do you think our species out of all Hominids
came to dominate all others,
why not chimpanzees
or our once rivals neanderthals?
After all they had larger craniums than sapiens.
Well, it certainly wasn’t because of our strength over other species,
there were many species, bears, lions, chimpanzees
很多物种 如 熊 狮子 黑猩猩
and indeed neanderthals that could tear our limbs off
like pretty little chicken wings.
And contrary to what you may think,
it wasn’t because of our large brains,
if so, elephants would be CEOs and politicians.
No, even though that is a rather nice image.
Okay, it was because of our superior intelligence,
but it was something far more specific about our intelligence in particular – after all,
our species were and still are extraordinarily intelligent.
But humans dominated the playing field because of
the unique way that Homosapiens’ brains evolved
to be able to form complex social bonds.
Other animals, bees, chimpanzees formed social groups,
其他动物 如蜜蜂 黑猩猩 虽然形成了社会群体
but none had the inherent ability to do so
quite like Homosapiens.
Homosapiens can, and as far as we know,
this is unique in the animal kingdom, gossip about
others behind their back, so that tribesmen knew
who to avoid in their tribe and other tribes.
And also, Homosapiens have the ability to imagine
things that we have never seen before,
like when a fellow tribesman would describe a beautiful
waterfall over near that big pointy rock over there.
Our ability to form these super complex social groups
and maintain knowledge on who doesn’t like whom,
who is willing to protect us when hunting
and most importantly: who stole john’s rock?
Are the very reasons why Homosapiens were able to to work together to form groups
that collectively were greater
and many times, more formidable than their sum parts
Friendships allowed us to hunt in groups,
protect each other and look after our sick.
So ask yourself,
when you and your best friend are together,
are you greater than your sum parts?
Can you do amazing things together
and forge great memories?
Could you rely on them in times of need?
If not it’s possible they could be
on the negative side of your 50 percent.
I have just launched my first book
which I’m crowfunding sticker flakiness
A thousand years of bizarre history from Britain and beyond
If you’d like to get your hands on a first edition signed copy,
then head on over to unbound, the link is in the description.
Watch this long video when you haven’t been already.
I’m pleased today. Thank you !
Hey Thoughty2 here.