Intelligent People Have Fewer Friends. Why? #Day11

It was getting late and I was running the last lap of the day. The sun had set and from the dim light that the lamb post emitted I saw a man, sitting alone on a bench staring into the dark. He was wearing spectacles and had a really narrow forehead. Both his arms were folded and nothing happening around seemed to bother him. As usual curiosity got the better of me; I skipped my last round and decided to talk to him.

He had a low voice and didn’t smile at all. He seemed to be really annoyed by my presence. I asked him a lot of questions and he answered only a few of them. I was getting anxious now because he was such a tough person to crack. I had to take out the special tactics in order to understand him and I did succeed.

I came to know that he was a fairly accomplished painter and was there to attend an exhibition. He was successful (financially and emotionally). He was following his passion and was happy with his life. I was really happy that I came to know him and was about to leave. As a last statement I told him, “you must be having a lot of friends since you are really famous and all”. Saying this I stood up in order to leave.

But the answer he gave me made me sit down and lead me to write this article.

Now to all my readers in today’s article ill try my best to make boring science and psychological concepts fun (may god help me), I mean research is like ugh (toasted my brain finding all the info).

Why do intelligent people have fewer or no friends at all? Are they truly happy in this state of mind?

There is this Psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa (of the London School of Economics and Political Science) was curious as much as I am about the question what makes a life well lived? But unlike me he had the resources and conducted a detailed research into the matter. He applied a concept called “The Savanna theory of happiness” to explain his findings from a large survey that involved 15,000 people, who were 18 to 28 years old. (No dude I am not gonna explain it fully, duh; if you are that interested in knowing about it click here)

The research showed that people with average intelligence reported happiness when they spent time with friends and the more friends they had the happier it made them. Astonishingly the exact opposite was true for the people with extreme high intelligence levels. They reported happiness when alone, in fact it was noted that those at the top end of the intelligence spectrum actually felt considerably less happiness spending time with friends.

I was not convinced so I dug a bit deeper and found that some theories suggest that this is because intelligent individuals are often skeptical of others, they are more able to see the faults inherent in human kind and hence doesn’t want to get tangled in the humdrum issues of the average population (oh bot it gets weird from here on)

I also found that when a highly intelligent person does form friendships it’s mostly for personal gains or simply out of awkwardness (the exact situation I was in). But on the other hand we the average Joe’s form friendship for silly reasons like emotional support or sometimes because of a lust for popularity and attention.

As it seems smart people are less in need of emotional support they have their books and knowledge to serve that need (please don’t kill me, nerd community, phew dodged a bullet there).

Now I wanted to know a bit more into the matter so I read a bit more and found that this aversion towards human interaction actually intensifies in a predictable and linear manner with increased intelligence (got a bit complicated don’t worry it gets interesting from here).

Think back to your schooldays and recollect examples of people like this, the smarter they are weirder they get. They find it a lot harder to find bonds with other beings. Any kids reading this if you can’t make any friends or if you are socially awkward guess what, this could be the reason (or not).

I’ll try to quote some famous examples from our history (oh how I love history, nerd alert!!). This will help to put things in perspective.

The great scientist Nikola Tesla never married nor did he ever have sex, his tastes were a tad bit different. He fell in love with a pigeon (I am not kidding guys just Google it) and actually wrote this about it “I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life” (and people think I am creepy). Being said that he is one of my idols and each of his work has inspired countless people across the world and lead to various modern inventions.

Now let’s talk about someone a bit familiar. The man whom almost all the children in this world have cursed for making their science syllabus big and making them learn shitty theories. Yes it’s our own Isaac Newton. He could be called as one of the most brilliant men to have ever lived. Seriously guys all joke apart we owe a lot to him, gravity, calculus and the laws of motion basically he laid all the ground work for the modern day physics.

Always wished it was a coconut

But what no one knows is that he was a real sociopath, he was immensely private never formed any kind of friendships apart from a mild collaboration with a Swiss mathematician and he “Died a Virgin” (I feel sorry for the dude, but hey who am I to judge him).

Happiness in Intelligent people is the rarest thing I know“, Earnest Hemingway said that.Now  he has met a lot of people and is also social to an extent. Guys it’s not that all highly intelligent people are antisocial, it’s just that they are in the vast minority of people and hence struggle to find others that share their own view on the world and accept them for their faults and peculiarly irritating nature. Because, after all, no matter how many times you have been told the scientifically proven fact that opposites attract each other. It’s actually similarities that bring people together and form lasting bonds.

Kanazawa’s study also found out a disturbing correlation that actually affects all of us. He found that people those who are in densely populated areas were significantly less happy than those who lived in less populated areas. But upon more research I found that he was not the only one to study this behavior. Countless other scientists have proven time and time again that densely populated areas harbor hatred toward their fellow people, where as the friendliest and most inviting people can be found in small towns and rural settlements (guys can any of you relate to this, I know I can).

If you are living in a metropolitan then the relation can be made quickly, just think about all the people you come across daily how many of them smiles or actually looks at your face, even with all the world class infrastructure which provides almost anything you need, but compassion is nowhere to be found.

So does this shows us a dark side of the humanity, Are we designed to live together with one another. No matter how intelligent or unintelligent you may be.

Oh what the heck, screw that, it doesn’t seem right. In truth scientific studies show that friendliness and compassion actually thrive in very small communities. It actually goes back to our evolutionary past, our ancestors living on the plains of Africa used to live in really small groups(at the time it was more practical this way), easy to travel and safer to protect everyone.

The only downside to living this way was that you would have to reproduce with your cousin or aunt if you preferred that (not so proud of our ancestors now huh, lol). Groups rarely mixed and when they did it always ended up in conflict, so people just stayed in their own small communities hundreds of kilometers away from everyone else.

What I want to say is that the same attitude is still instilled deep within us till this day. If you are planning to move to a big city in search of happiness, I would suggest that you should think twice. Remember that you are going to fight a behavior that is dormant inside you.

Holy shit that’s a long ass article. Guys every day I say to myself ill make it short this time. But it never seems to work.

This article took me some time to write, hope that you guys learned something from this. If you did then don’t wait boast to your friend about the new knowledge you gained.

Feedback’s are always welcome guys. Your words inspire me to make it better.

This is Karthik Surya signing out…

7 thoughts on “Intelligent People Have Fewer Friends. Why? #Day11

  1. A question I have always wondered about is answered justly here. But I don’t consider myself remarkably intelligent and I still have trouble making friends. Or they have trouble accepting me.
    If only there were more understanding people in this world. Sigh.
    Lovely post!

    1. Thank you Sruthi, I’m really glad that you liked my article. I just have a small suggestion for you, “Just push ahead with your dreams and passion” and sooner or later you “WILL” find like-minded people who will love and care for you. Take my word for it…:)

  2. This is such an intriguing hypothesis…and, I have to say I agree for the most part. If I understand your point, we might differ in that I’m not sure that most highly-intelligent people approach interpersonal relationships from a (purely) utilitarian perspective–that might be too broad a statement given that there are those who acknowledge that they would not be where they were/are without the love of (and for) a trusted one(s)….Need for emotional connection is a feature of being human. Further, you are evidence that, not only can highly intelligent people seek out emotional connections, but they can use their gifts to promote reciprocal, healthy emotional attachments. My thinking (not having taken time to reflect, deeply, before leaving a comment) is this. I agree that super-intelligent people can fall victim to social awkwardness–but so can super-sensitive/empathetic people. It is evidence of the human condition. Your post (very impressive indeed!) speaks to the reductive, narrow confines reserved for the vast majority. I really appreciate that your focus is on changing Earnest Hemingway’s assessment that happiness and intelligence are mutually exclusive…we, no matter what our level of intelligence, must cling to the knowing that we can turn the tide if we (as humans, as souls) reject false beliefs that serve to isolate us. Everyone has a right to happiness, and, socialization being what it is, happiness has come to be something we may have to fight extra hard for….but, it is a quest well worth the fight. Thank you for inspiring me to articulate what I’ve been, increasingly, thinking about as I strive to work through–and let go of–longstanding ways of trying to fit in while feeling peaceful and true to myself. Sorry if this is a ramble…rather than a helpful contribution. And, again, I love what you said and how you said it. Thank you 🙂

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