Friday, July 01, 2005

New Friends and Old Friends

I just got a comment from Darren, which is good. I thought maybe I had accidentally been logging everyone to Haloscan again, but I can’t remember the Haloscan password, so I can’t check.

He made some fairly insightful commentary about my "hitting on girls" post here. I'm surprised that post is getting this much play, because it's not something I'm any kind of expert on. As Darren points out, I'm really just extrapolating from my celebrity theory.

I’m going to get a little bit personal, but I don’t think they’ll be offended. It’s not like I’m insulting anyone or giving away state secrets. If either of you want this post gone, I’ll gonify it.

Darren takes the "deep" method of making friends: after a brief exploratory social probe, he decides whether or not to gun it and draw you into a fairly close friendship. Darius takes the "wide" method of making friends: his brief exploratory social probe quickly gives way to cheerful chatter which draws his target into a lighter friendship.

That isn't to say that Darius can't make close friends and Darren can't make loose friends, it's just not their modus operandi.

But, let's examine the results of these two approaches, according to the "valuable time trading" theory that underlies both aforementioned posts.

Darius cheerfully swaps small amounts of time. He's a consummate time salesman who has mastered the art of giving small amounts of valuable time without requiring anything in return. Because of this, he has many friends who, while not close, do value his time. And, in return, him. As a side effect, because he does not spend all that much time with any given person, they don’t really know him all that well. This means that he is unquantified. Therefore, they estimate him based solely on his chatting skill and charisma. He could have no marketable skills at all, but they would still think quite highly of him if his chatting and charisma were up to snuff. Which they are.

I should point out that Darius is VERY capable, and he generally injects doses of evidence into his chattering when appropriate. But the core fact remains the same: people like him because his connecting skills are very good, not because he’s a great EE or because he knows the best diners in Worcester.

Darren, on the other hand, tends to pick and choose his targets with care, but sink a lot of investment into them once they are in his reticules. If Darren picks you, you’ll get to know quite a lot about him.

Here’s the thing: what you think of Darren, in the end, is much more related to his actual worth. His actual worth is quite high, fortunately. Unfortunately, once the actual worth is quantified, it becomes evident whether you need that kind of value or not, at which point his time will either continue to matter or cease mattering. It would be difficult for philosopher-programmer Darren to keep a close friendship going with someone who valued neither philosophy nor programming.

Why the difference in approaches?

I’ll hazard a guess, and this is the part someone might be offended by. Darius is very charismatic. Darren is not.

The mind naturally is drawn to repeating the most successful things and dropping the least successful. In theory, when Darius was younger he found that it was very easy to make friendships. Therefore, his path of optimum time allotment was to spend a minimum of time making a maximum of friends.

Darren, on the other hand, would have found making friends significantly harder, so his path of optimum allotment would be to find the most likely targets and invest most of his social time in them.

I hope nobody’s offended by this, but it seems pretty clear to me. The basic fact is that Darius is better at making friends than Darren. This leads him to spend his time carefully, because everyone he meets knows it has value. Darren has to convince his targets that his time has value because, although it does, his first impression is not nearly as strong as Darius’.

I should note that Darius is UNUSUALLY good at networking, which is not really the same as “making friends”, but in geek terms, it “uses the same stats”. I have to wonder how he got into networking, since most of the charismatic people I’ve met tend to gather a cult following and ‘milk’ them. Which, obviously, is exactly the opposite of networking. Makes me think that maybe he spent a lot of his life moving away from his friends (or visa-versa).

But that’s just total castles in the sky. I’m just being excessively curious and dissecting everything with a very clumsy razor. I hope nobody got cut. :)


Darius Kazemi said...

Ha! I totally missed this post, too. You're correct in almost everything you say about me, except the part about me finding it easy to make lots of friends when I was younger. I was absolutely uncharismatic as a kid. I was 15 when I discovered that I had charisma--I still have my journal entries from that time. I was flabbergasted that WHEN I SPOKE, PEOPLE LISTENED. That phrase, by the way, is exactly what Hitler realized in the bars he frequented when he decided to make the move from bad art to politics. Anyway, I first realized I might have charisma at the age of 15, and actually managed to cultivate it fully by the age of 18.

Craig Perko said...

Ah-Ha! The "shockwave" method of discovering a skill/talent. That generally produces a sudden and semi-permanent interest in using the skill.

I am talking out of my buttocks!