No Man is an Island?

What is a friend? If one were to Google this exact term, the definition given would be as follows: “A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” In other words a friend, a true friend mind you, is someone a person can confide in. As well, trust is a major factor. A friend is not an acquaintance. Many people use the term “friend” very frivolously.

In this age of social networking, many people seem to collect people to add to their friends list. But, just how many of these people are actually friends? Or for that matter, provide some benefit to enhance our lives down the road? Most likely, not many. In fact most people can only handle between 100 and 230 relationships, with around 150 being the most common. This is known as Dunbar’s Number. This is an excerpt of the article:

“Dunbar’s number states the number of people one knows and keeps social contact with, and it does not include the number of people known personally with a ceased social relationship, nor people just generally known with a lack of persistent social relationship, a number which might be much higher and likely depends on long-term memory size.”

Despite all those ornamental friends on our social networking Christmas tree, people are feeling more isolated and lonely. A study by the University of Chicago demonstrates this.

“…while Internet social networks may make us feel that we know hundreds of people, research is showing that we feel more isolated than ever before. A 2006 study published in American Sociological Review found that people in the U.S. had fewer friends than they’d had 20 years prior. In 1985, the average American claimed to have three close confidants (which could have included spouses or family members, in addition to friends), but by 2004, the average American had only two close confidants. One in four people reported having no one to talk to at all.”

It is quite interesting that in this age, with virtually a limitless availability of communication methods, that people feel so isolated. Perhaps society took for granted going to visit friends out of the blue. Or actually calling someone to catch up on the latest events in each others lives; rather than reading the news feeds.


Life Under the Public Eye

Once upon a time, people were leery of giving out any personal information. Especially to strangers. These days, individuals post their email address, phone numbers, relationship status and many of their personal thoughts on social media networks. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the largest social network in the world: “”People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,” he said. “That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

Is this over sharing of information beneficial or detrimental to society? Perhaps a little of both. On the pro side, people are able to keep in contact with old friends and family who live in distant locations. As for the negative side, a whole slew of problems arise. “Facebook” stalking on one’s ex significant other, vicariously living through other people’s lives, and losing real life connections.

For some people, collecting “friends” has become a favorite pastime. Despite the fact that a person may have over one thousand friends, in reality, it is only possible to maintain relationships with around one hundred and fifty people. And on top of that, most people on average only have one or two close friends (in the true definition of friendship), in which they can totally confide in.

It is this writers opinion that one day, people are going to be overwhelmed with social networking. Especially as new sites pop up every day, demanding one’s attention. This may not happen in the near future, but, at some point, it seems that individuals will miss the face to face human connection versus the digital kind.

An article from had the following to say regarding the current amount of actual friends the average person has today, and comments on the social consequences of social networking.

“Interestingly, while Internet social networks may make us feel that we know hundreds of people, research is showing that we feel more isolated than ever before. A 2006 study published in American Sociological Review found that people in the U.S. had fewer friends than they’d had 20 years prior. In 1985, the average American claimed to have three close confidants (which could have included spouses or family members, in addition to friends), but by 2004, the average American had only two close confidants. One in four people reported having no one to talk to at all.” (How Many Friends does the Average Person Have

In conclusion, with the amount of information that people put about their personal lives online, it is hard to believe that many are still concerned with big brother watching over them. Social networks have practically became the tool to monitor millions of online users in their daily habits, likes and dislikes, purchasing preferences and political affiliations. Just to name a few. However, this is the world we live in, and if anyone wants any sort of anonymity, being more discrete about what is posted on their social network of choice may be a good practice. Or, there is the option to just be rid of social networking all together.

Get Out of Jail Free Card: We’re Too Big to Fail

When Thomas Edison was working on his lightbulb, despite countless failures, when asked about it, he simply replied: “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

If only corporations, of the large persuasion, would look back and learn from their mistakes in the past and the mistakes that others in their field; perhaps, corporate bailouts would not be necessary.

On one side of the fence some believe that a bailout is a good thing, because it keeps people employed. The other side may feel that, if the “big wig’s” had of done their job correctly, a bailout would not be needed at all.

The two major bailouts that come to mind are that of the airline industry and the automotive industry. With that in mind, what would have happened if neither received any help from the government (meaning tax money)?

Would people lose their jobs? Most likely yes. Although it would force the people in charge to come up with a way to run their business more successfully. The government shouldn’t have to step in like a kind father and bail their rambunctious child out of jail when they make a mistake.

Perhaps if the airline industry did fail and a bailout was not an option, the industry would have invested a lot more interest in creating a means to make the business profitable without cutting corners. It may be the case that people couldn’t fly for a little while, but, the airline industry would be up all hours of the day trying to find out how to get those plains in the air and start making money again as soon as possible.

In a situation like this, a message would be sent to all business who think they are too big to fall, to take a step back and reinvent itself for the better of its customers and shareholders.


Note: all of the above is based on opinion, not on factual data.

Health, Business and the Way of Life

This is strictly a non-scientific, purely observational opinion on the link to obesity, depression, and overall health as related to work and the way of life in modern Western Civilization. Namely, in America. The main focus of this article is on obesity and mental health. Despite many other factors that would affect the population during certain periods of time; this is a very narrow scope of merely a few ailments that contribute to the well being of the American population.

Time has become a luxury. The western world has become a non-stop, fast paced, extremely competitive environment. No doubt, most readers know that America evolved from an agricultural, to industrial, then technological and now information age. During that evolution, people, despite advances in the medical field have developed a much less healthy lifestyle. Yes, thanks to modern medicine, people are living longer; but, has the quality of that lifespan deteriorated? In other words quality verses quantity. Some might say yes. Of course there is room for argument to the contrary.

In the agricultural era, people lived off the land. Local farmers sustained the existence of themselves and their families through the harvest. It was hard work. But, in that hard work individuals were getting a lot of exercise and the amount of obesity in the nation was negligible. As far as the overall happiness of people during this time, I can not speculate on that matter. I would venture to guess that families were closer to each other and that people generally had a greater trust for others. Beyond that, I can not attest.

Once the industrial era began, the competitive nature of business began to take a stronger hold. Job opportunities became more abundant for individuals and the general population began to have an increased amount of disposable income. Although working conditions and the standards of safety in the working environment left much to be desired, especially in factory settings; people could now afford to some extent to indulge in more recreational activities. Family seemed to still play an important role in the quality of life and one’s happiness. As well, people still had a sense of trust for each other. I once did a search online to see at what time period people were most satisfied with life and from what I read, the 1950’s ranked among the highest. The health aspect during this period, concerning obesity, was still at a minimal. Portion sizes were smaller, individuals were still getting more exercise on the job and the need for things to be rushed to be completed was not as great as it is today.

As time progressed and technology advanced, the world went from a local economy to a global economy. Competition among business became an international concern. People became to be in much more of a hurry. Time once used to enjoy one’s self, became less of a commodity and more of a luxury. The type of jobs needed became less physical and much more intellectual. For instance, a lot more desk jobs, sitting behind computers and working more hours to stay competitive became a must. People spent less time with their families and friends and more time at the office. In such cases, the need to be able to stop and have a healthy meal became less available, giving rise to an increased reliance on fast food restaurants. Portion sizes became much larger and the amount of exercise one got on the job tremendously decreased. At this time, obesity and the consequences that came with it, became much more of a threat to individuals. Diabetes, heart conditions and the like were on the rise. As for mental health, the strains at work were carried home. Work seemed to have transformed from something one did in order to provide and enjoy time with loved ones, to being the forefront of one’s existence.

Finally, in this day of information, things have not changed as much from that of the technological age. The main difference is that information has become more valuable than developing greater technology to stay competitive. Technology still continues to grow and advance; however, it is for the purpose of gaining information and processing that information. Obesity, has become one of the top medical concerns in America. Diabetes is much more prevalent, the general happiness of individuals seems to have declined and the quality of interpersonal relationships has also seemed to diminish. Trust among people is extremely low, and depression has become another great health concern. Despite the small amount of exceptions, people do not exercise or engage in much physical activity. The family unit has undergone a great transformation. Although I see it as a good thing that people are becoming more accepting to the non-traditional family, the desire of individuals to pursue and maintain a family of any sorts is in the minority. Divorce is prevalent, children become split into the custody of one parent then the other. And the opportunistic nature of individuals and the need to put the need of one’s self above that of others is common place.

In conclusion, as I mentioned in the very beginning, none of these statements are based on research. Rather, they are based on the observation of people in daily life, the news and conversations with others. It is merely a question really, that is the quality of life and the health of individuals become greater with the passing of time? Yes, people are living longer, and have more opportunities (perhaps) than in the past. Ultimately, will individuals in society make the choice to improve the world in a way that is more beneficial for everyone verses themselves? And, are the consequences of gaining fortune outweigh the demise of one’s overall health?

Logically Illogical

It seems to reason that a great deal of life’s decisions are made with careful consideration to logical thinking. Wether it be weighing options, calculating risk versus reward, financial planning, investing and so forth. When making such decisions people often look at statistics, trends, history, opinions and data analysis. This is all well and good, in fact it is what is taught to us from high school through college. However, the resulting outcome of most decisions stems less from logic and more from basic human emotion.

Consider the stock market. Individuals do an incredible amount of research on companies they are looking to invest in. Also, companies use a great amount of resources to increase their stock value, resources based on research, development, strategy so on and so forth. Yet, during times of economic turbulence, the market falls for the mere fact that people lose faith in the company. They feel uneasy about the future and pull their money out, an emotional response generated by a great deal of factors. Therefore, it seems to be a fair statement that any economic well being is driven by human emotion. When people feel good, they invest; when feeling uncertain they pull their money out, even though they wouldn’t really lose that money had they left it in the stock market, even in a bad economy. The reason money is lost is because people sell their stock for less than they invested.

Much of life is like this. No matter how much research or numbers crunched, people rely more on their “gut feeling” than statistical data. Even some of life’s more mundane decisions are made based on feelings than logic. One could argue that logically, playing the lottery is a waste of money, often money that a person doesn’t have; or gambling for that matter. But, when a person “feels” lucky, that feeling overrides any logical reason not to partake in a high stakes gamble. That lucky feeling is often reinforced if a person does win on a long shot. In that state of mind, a person continues this gamble and often does not realize that the amount of money spent to win is far greater than the amount of money won. The investment cost more than the reward, yet, the good feeling of the reward perpetuates the desire to continue playing.

Even in interpersonal relationships between individuals are guided more by emotional feelings than logical choices. For instance people in dysfunctional relationships, perhaps sadly, even abusive relationships; the feeling of hope for a change or the feeling of “love” overrides the logical choice to get out of that relationship. In such cases, people on the outside of the relationship can look objectively upon the situation and give a number of reasons to a person to end the relationship; but, to the person involved in such a situation can not look past their feeling of attachment to the other person in the flawed relationship. The “wronged” person often makes excuses for retaining their involvement, such as: “hopefully they will change,” or “it [the relationship] isn’t bad all the time.”

In conclusion, it seems to be a fair statement that the majority of decisions made in life are based much more heavily on human emotion than on logical thinking. I believe this to be the case, since rewards coming from choices are a strong reinforcement to behavior and fear of failure is a greater deterrent to making potentially beneficial choices.


Please note: all of the examples and ideas are based on observations and not scientific study. They are strictly that of an opinion and any arguments against these observations are welcome.