Goldilocks Would Never Be friends with 2/3rds of You
In high school, I came to a place where I didn’t like a lot of the people around me… and I wasn’t a goth. Not that I wished other people ill but I felt that there was a large chunk of people for which I didn’t want a deeper relationship; “classmate” would be far enough. I had a fair number of close friends but it was us against the world. I felt that everyone else was either: rich, entitled asses that loved high school; or boring, Top 40 listening, sheep who took high school seriously. (Can you smell a 16 year old’s blind certainty, emotional intensity and allergic-to-nuance thinking in that last sentence? Well, sorry! I’m just being honest. Ugh! [SLAM])
I imagined that when I went off to college the wheat (me and my people) would be separated from the chaff (morons and blowhards). I was wrong. College was full of people I didn’t like. After college, I moved to Chicago. Certainly this working class city with dirt under it’s fingernails and six months of winter wouldn’t suffer fools or fakes. Again, I was wrong. This time, though, something strange caught my attention.
In high school and college, I was surrounded by my peers but in Chicago I was around people of all ages and backgrounds. It seemed that, independent of my frame of reference, I didn’t like 2/3rds of the people around me. And if it’s true in any reference frame for me, is it true for other people, too? Do all people not like 2/3rds of those around them? And if it’s true for other people does that mean that I am someone else’s 2/3rds? Does anyone honestly think I’m a pompous ass? Me?!?
The Goldilocks principal for other people.
Proposition: For 2/3rds of the people in your life, you have no interest in being friends and, under normal conditions, could not form a deep, meaningful connection.
Sub-Proposition 1: 1/3 of people over stimulate you. They are obnoxious — too loud, too assertive, too controlling, too Christian, too liberal, too conservative, too… whatever. You want to shout at them, “Be quiet or go away!”
Sub-Proposition 2: 1/3 of people under stimulate you. You find them to be boring, too foolish, too slow, tepid, weak, not christian enough, not liberal enough, not conservative enough. You want to shout at them, “Say something! Do something!”
Sub-Proposition 3: 1/3 of people are just right, not that you will be friends with them but the temperament and pace that they approach life with means that you could.
Corollary 1: These ratios are the same regardless of where you are; high school, college, scout troop, around the office.
Corollary 2: Because all people feel this way, every individual is someone else’s first third, second third, or third third.
Thanks to our electronic society removing the need for daily interactions with random strangers, it is easier than ever to surround ourselves with people that we like. We un-friend people on Facebook who annoy us. We put ourselves into cultural, tribal-boxes and assume the others are not good enough. The truth is that, like Goldilocks, someone out there likes cold porridge and hard bed. And they aren’t broken because of it.
Please know that I do the same thing. I also work actively to try and not be blinded by social group myopia. I remind myself for every tweet I post and every blog I write for Literate Ape, most people won’t like it. You might find that thought depressing. Or maybe you feel I didn’t go far enough. I don’t care. I know that a small handful of you will think it’s just right.