Something I Missed | INFJ Forum

Something I Missed

Faye

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Mar 9, 2009
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I thought that I had explored typical depression from every angle, but there is something important that I recently realized I missed.

I knew that depression and obesity are skyrocketing in developed societies. I had attributed this largely to diet, though I knew alienation was a significant factor. What I did not guess is that the alien we feel may be a result of our brains being incapable of dealing with so many people. We are incapable of interacting meaningfully with so many people; our brains are limited to about 150 people, the average size of a band level society.

When humans first ended up stuck in large settlements, significant portions of the population met their deaths through violence. To counter this, institutions were established (religion, government, police, armies) to prevent such things from happening. Also, society frequently splits up into smaller groups (and still sometimes does) that are more cognitively manageable.

One of the problems the modern area, especially with communication technology, is that the problem of interacting with too many people is exacerbated. So the stress associated with it is exacerbated.

The result is that it becomes increasingly difficult to interact meaningfully with others.

Thoughts?
 
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completely agree. I think my anxiety level has gone up because of this. And what makes it worse is the idea that you're expected to listen to, accommodate, and adapt to more of these voices everyday. It really gets too much.


It's a real issue which is ignored, dismissed, and the effects of this, although increasing, are being pushed to the side as "all in the mind." The argument is if you can't handle the pressure, then it's a personal problem - the individual's incapacity to handle it, instead of society's creation of this problem.
 
I see this too. There is definitely a sociological size limit, in my opinion, as well.

In the companies I have worked for, you see that as they get bigger, they become MUCH less capable of functioning efficiently.

Dealing with so much at once doesn't even seem inefficient, it seems impossible. It has to stem from everyone having individual/unique stances, opinions, etc and being completely unable to accomodate for all of them, right?

I can't personally handle dealing with 50 different people in a day, let alone triple that.
 
You know it's funny. You said 150, and I immediately thought of this: http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html

You see, monkey experts performed a monkey study a while back, and discovered that the size of the monkey's monkey brain determined the size of the monkey groups the monkeys formed. The bigger the brain, the bigger the little societies they built.
...
Most monkeys operate in troupes of 50 or so. But somebody slipped them a slightly larger brain and they estimated the ideal group or society for this particular animal was about 150.
That brain, of course, was human.
Yes, it's Cracked, yes it uses monkeys, but it's a good read on why people alienate each other. I also highly recommend this article on why the twenty-first century is making you miserable: http://www.cracked.com/article_15231_7-reasons-21st-century-making-you-miserable.html

Those two may be the best two articles on Cracked, and they're both pretty insightful as well as being totally related to the topic on hand.
 
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i concur...i find i feel more depressed when i think about how vast the city i live in is...how many people are crammed into the city block I live on...apartments, convenience stores, specialty shops, department stores full of people. development after development watching the land stripped down for more people to live in...I long to move back to a small town...a simple life i suppose...not chaos..

I guess thats another observation...large cities are chaos...lives are in chaos...we drive, we eat, we sleep, we work, but there is never time for anything else....so do cities created the "I am always busy" mentality? the I never have any time....hmmmm
 
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cool observation. i think facebook brings out the worst in people, for reasons like these.

Which is why i'm not into having tons of "friends." And i don't see why it's necessary either.
 
This is pretty insightful. Have you written any other threads on the forum (or would you mind starting one) with your other thoughts on typical depression? I'd like to read them.
 
Which is why i'm not into having tons of "friends." And i don't see why it's necessary either.

It is necessary so that your Farmville, Mafia, and Cafe World will prosper duh. ;P
 
I can believe the 150 theory, and possibly that dealing with so many people you can't have the time or capasity to deal with is stressful, but I don't know if its causing depression in me at least. I work in a customer service heavy job, I can see well over 150 people in a day, and the store is often packed.
If I get sad or angry though, its usually because of the people I know and work with closely, and not the strangers I meet. I actually feel happier with each customer, something about just being nice to a stranger and them appreciating it, then getting that process repeated many many times, very nice :).
When I worked a different shift however, once where I dealt with only a few people over and over, I was angry and depressed constantly. I hated the world for only the low quality of those few interactions.
 
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It is necessary so that your Farmville, Mafia, and Cafe World will prosper duh. ;P
AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Well, as per the topic; yeah. I also agreed that too much interaction could overwhelm us (moreso for Is). I can understand how this seems threatening and trapping for lots of people especially INFJs. :(

Hmmmm.........I wonder. Even if it's harder than what it's used to (in several cases) but isn't the core of most meaningful interaction still the same? "I will interact with you if I want it / if you've proven yourself worthy of my attention."

The definition of 'interacting' comes to mind. What comes as interacting?

I guess it's kinda selfish, but it's a matter of detachment, I guess.
 
I guess it's kinda selfish, but it's a matter of detachment, I guess.
Well, considering all the people you could possibly be attached to/care about, its better for yourself and your well being if you don't try and interact deeply with everyone. You can't give enough to those you do like if you waste your energy of those who in the long run won't matter.
 
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I have to wonder about the definition of "meaningful interactions."

I have had many meaningful interactions with complete strangers - or do they mean a limited number of people you could be engaged with in meaningful interactions on a daily basis - in which case I am surprised that there are so many.

Do you have a link to an article somewhere that explains this?
 
I have to wonder about the definition of "meaningful interactions."

I have had many meaningful interactions with complete strangers - or do they mean a limited number of people you could be engaged with in meaningful interactions on a daily basis - in which case I am surprised that there are so many.

Do you have a link to an article somewhere that explains this?

i'm not completely sure but i don't think dragon meant it to be established scientific fact, just an interesting social theory, potentially falsifiable like any other.


The best definition that I can give you is this: a person you can interact meaningfully with is a person that you would feel comfortable asking for a favor (even a minor one). If you want the full scoop of where this idea came from, read Pandora's Seed, the chapter entitled Demented, I believe.

It is in some regards an established scientific fact, but I'm extrapolating slightly by applying it to modernity like this. However, I would bet money on it.

Edit for Clarity: The fact is that large numbers of humans does stress the human brain and leads to aggression. The extrapolation is that humans aren't so different in our cognitive capacities from how we were several thousand years ago (but not more than 10,000), and also that, because we lack violence as a legitimate recourse, end up depressed instead. If you read the book, you will see that they have found empirical evidence for the violence part.
 
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This is pretty insightful. Have you written any other threads on the forum (or would you mind starting one) with your other thoughts on typical depression? I'd like to read them.
Edit: Sorry no, I tried to do it, and I can't make a thread on things that cause depression. I can give you a short list: poor diet, lack of exercise, the media, and information technology are the main things.
 
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What I did not guess is that the alien we feel may be a result of our brains being incapable of dealing with so many people.

could be. too many variables to process, to many conflicting cultural dynamics to overcome before you can truly connect. perhaps the stress of having to deal with that everyday is causing people to become depressed. i have noticed people in smaller, more uniform communities seem somewhat happier than their counterparts in overpopulated, multicultural cities, although that could be for other reasons.. (and smaller communities have their own issues)
anyway, if it's true, it would be just one of the many negative consequences of overpopulation :/
 
I can meaningfully deal with about 5. Everyone after that can piss off.
 
One thing I've observed about large populations is the depersonalization of the individual. How could it make us feel any other way? Look at the scenes in the streets of a place like NYC. Thousands and thousands of people walking in the streets and you could almost swear they're walking around each inside their own little bubble, isolated from everyone and every thing around them. It used to be that Society felt drawn together by their perceived similarities, but now it's just the opposite...we seem to define ourselves by how we are different. Everyone wants to be unique. At some level, isn't too much of anything a bad thing? The fancy word would be disenfranchisement. Maybe we need a little more to draw us together rather than emphasizing that which pulls us apart.
 
One thing I've observed about large populations is the depersonalization of the individual. How could it make us feel any other way? Look at the scenes in the streets of a place like NYC. Thousands and thousands of people walking in the streets and you could almost swear they're walking around each inside their own little bubble, isolated from everyone and every thing around them. It used to be that Society felt drawn together by their perceived similarities, but now it's just the opposite...we seem to define ourselves by how we are different. Everyone wants to be unique. At some level, isn't too much of anything a bad thing? The fancy word would be disenfranchisement. Maybe we need a little more to draw us together rather than emphasizing that which pulls us apart.

Definitely, but the idea of being similar or drawn to other people is offensive to many people. Individualism is entrenched to such an unhealthy degree that to even suggest there is a problem with it will cause people to question what is wrong with you.