I am a devoted listener of the Vicious Circle Podcast . On last week’s episode the topic of the Monkeysphere came up- the gist of it being that humans are capable of maintaining about 150 relationships, beyond that things start to get a bit squiffy and we stop caring
The Monkeysphere is the group of people who each of us, using our monkeyish brains, are able to conceptualize as people. If the monkey scientists are monkey right, it's physically impossible for this to be a number much larger than 150.
Oh, not much. It's just the one single reason society doesn't work.
It's like this: which would upset you more, your best friend dying, or a dozen kids across town getting killed because their bus collided with a truck hauling killer bees? Which would hit you harder, your Mom dying, or seeing on the news that 15,000 people died in an earthquake in Iran?
They're all humans and they are all equally dead. But the closer to our Monkeysphere they are, the more it means to us. Just as your death won't mean anything to the Chinese or, for that matter, hardly anyone else more than 100 feet or so from where you're sitting right now.
The moral of the story is that after about 150 people or so we kinda stop caring. Person #151 is outside of our monkey sphere and we just don’t have room in our brains to maintain that relationship and so we either vote someone else off the island to make room for a new one or we just give person #151 a bored ‘meh’ and move on.
I have many “friends” on Facebook, but a good number of them are outside of my Monkeysphere. Sean, luckily for him, happens to fall within my Monkeysphere. It didn’t take too terribly long to earn a spot there and I don’t know whom I may have cast out to make room for him, but he is there nonetheless. I can count on my ten fingers the number of true friends that I have. I’m talking help-you-bury-a-body-and-burn-the-evidence friends and he is definitely one of them. I think a lot of times we take those friends for granted and assume that they know how we feel about them so perhaps I should make a more concerted effort to let my friends know how I feel about them. Perhaps I should tell them how much I value them and how I really do cherish their friendship. On second thought, given the way my friends and I talk to each other and rib one another they’d probably think something was wrong.