Something New: Social & Human Connection

Day 10 on ‘Something New: Social & Human Connection’ of ‘Relationships’ Chapter

From ‘Remembering’ Series

[Listen to the audio with guided alignment at the end]

“If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.”

African Proverb

We are social animals as we are wired together. The key to existence and creation is the organisation of atoms, molecules, tissues, organisms, organs, bodies and living beings group together interacting in the networks of dependency in which they all depend on each other.

Here are some of the interesting findings from the books I read on social and human connection.

Social Intelligence

The following sharing is excerpt from Marissa King’s book “Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection.”

Social Intelligence is a set of interpersonal competencies that influence your ability to get along with others and successfully navigate social interactions. Just like shyness and cognitive intelligence, it can be viewed as either fixed or flexible.

As Daniel Goleman, the author of a book by that name, wrote:

“The ingredients of social intelligence I propose here can be organized into two broad categories: social awareness, what we sense about others—and social facility, what we then do with that awareness.”

For those who hold a fixed mindset about social intelligence makes people less likely to engage socially because one perceived limited return. But, note that, social intelligence is not fixed.

Reciprocity in Relationships

“Givers are able to develop and leverage extraordinarily rich networks. By virtue of the way they interact with other people in their networks, givers create norms that favor adding rather than claiming or trading value, expanding the pie for all involved.”

Adam Grant’s book Give and Take

Reciprocity is the currency of social exchange that build the foundation of social relationships. Giving is a good strategy in the long term as it leads to create a greater value and reciprocity within the network. In short term, giving overcomes resistance to building a network as it invokes positive moral sentiment.

“You always have something to give,

everyone has something to give. ”

Dunbar’s Number

Do you know, the magic number 150 is the number of stable contacts we can maintain? It is known as Dunbar’s number. Dunbar put it, it’s “the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.

Our innermost circle is about 2 to 5 people where we can go to when we face emotional and financial distress. Dunbar called the next group as our sympathy group which re about 15 people we are close to, where we get in touch in monthly basis. Expanding to a circle of close friends which bout 50 people we can invite them to a barbecue but wouldn’t share our innermost secret. Beyond that is the Dunbar’s number of 150 casual friends or contacts where the sense of reciprocity ends. Multiply by 3, we will have about 450 to 600 acquaintances of people we have seen in the past years but do not regularly keep in touch with. Then the outermost edge are the 1,500 people we recognize them by sight.

Social Media Network

We can have up to thousands friends on social media, but people who have larger social media networks do not have larger offline networks, and they do not feel emotionally closer to the people in the network.

Social media hasn’t expanded the number of friends we have or made us feel closer to them. It has simply changed our ability to keep track of the outermost layer of former acquaintances.

The perks of social media is that it offers us a way to reach our college roommates or best friends from high school, especially those who are far edges of our networks.

Limited Size of Networks

The size of our networks is limited due to our cognitive and emotional capacity plus our time devoting to relationships. When we invested time and energy in our innermost circle, we have lesser time for casual friends. If we spend more time to catch up with acquaintances, we may find it harder to develop a strong sympathy group.

Today we have less time for relationships than it seems our parents had.

Friends & Acquaintances

The difference between friends and acquaintances lies on the tie strength. Closest friends with strong ties ;while acquaintances with weak ties.

A recent study by Jeffrey Hall at the University of Kansas found that it takes around fifty hours altogether to go from acquaintances to casual friends. An additional forty hours is necessary to become “real” friends. To become close friends likely takes more than two hundred hours. Yet simply investing more time in a relationship won’t necessarily transform an acquaintance into a friend, supporter, or ally.

Why our co-workers where we get to see almost everyday for years are more of acquaintances than friends is because we have not disclose much about yourself to them or each other. That’s why most of our Facebook friends aren’t really our friends.

The images we present on social media and the thinness of the medium make it nearly impossible to transform repeated interactions into stronger ties.

With strong ties infused of intimacy and affection, it provides emotional support to increase overall well being. Even when our casual acquaintances are not playing a big role in behavioural changes, the weak ties are likely to give us great idea or business opportunities with new initiatives.

Fear of Strangers

Thought fear of strangers is common, as social animals, we are wired to be accepted. Thus, the fear of not being accepted is heightened when we interact with strangers, leading to the core of social anxiety.

Over the course of a lifetime, 13 percent of people will suffer from clinically diagnosable social anxiety. This makes it the third largest mental health problem. Even if it doesn’t reach clinical levels, almost all of us experience social anxiety at some point.

Without Face to Face Interactions

Our emotional attachment to friends and family will quickly deteriorates without face to face interaction. After 2 months without in-person meet ups, the feeling of closeness between family member is said to drop by more than 30%. So as for friendships’ intimacy level. After 150 days without seeing each other, the friends’ feelings of closeness dropped by 80%.

The following sharing is excerpt from John T. Cacioppo’s book “Loneliness.”

“A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and along these fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

The Influence on Each Other

Do you know that if our close ones seems to put on weight, it makes us easier to accept our own excess weight?

When everyone else looks heavier, our own fuller image in the mirror is less troubling and so when our circle is ‘expanding’, we are less likely to criticise each other.

Social Behaviour

People must belong to a tribe,” E. O. Wilson tells us;

“they yearn to have a purpose larger than themselves.”

Thus, social isolation deprives us of our feeling in the sense of tribal connection and our sense of purpose.

What drives connection comes from the analogy of the use of carrot and stick. Where the warmth of connection is the carrot while the pain of feeling isolated, loneliness, is the stick.

Lifelong Balancing Act Between Self & Other

Deep within our programming in our DNA, every level of ours is a constant balancing act between the self and the other. This is a lifelong challenge with the reconciliation of the split between self and other, with the desire for autonomy against the desire for calm assurance of intimate connection.

Thus, self regulation plays an important role.

Hereby closing the last day on Relationships chapter.

Thank you for being here and may you enjoy relationships with enriching experiences in life.



Published by Abbhya 阿比亚 Pan Vic Qi

One sharing and supporting unity consciousness

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