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Whoever would ever have thought it?

[Disclaimer: There’s been a long-running in-joke on the Rust team for years about ‘filler’ media reports setting out supposed insightful findings about humanity, as discovered by obscure research teams in obscure universities around the world, usually via surveys they have conducted featuring amazingly-small numbers of participants. Our fearless investigative team then traditionally re-heat the findings in order to make sweeping comments upon life in the 21st Century] …

Now read on …

Today on the website of The Independent one Elsa Vulliamy has written about a survey recently published in the journal Royal Society Open Science that has been researching the number of friends that people at different stages of their lives – see here – THE INDEPENDENT

In summary, apparently both men and women tend to build a wider and wider circle of friends until about the age of 25, after which their number of regular contacts drop off. The average 25 year-old man contacts 19 people per month and the average woman of the same age contacts about 17.5.

By the age of 39, however, the average man is contacting only 12 people and the average woman 15.

By the age of 80 it seems that the numbers contacted by the average man plateaus at 6 and the average woman 8, probably because of grandparent-hood.

I suspect that many Rust readers would agree with me in forming the view that these revelations are hardly earth-shattering.

Most human beings enter adulthood from an outward-looking standpoint, seeking to try new things, experience new cultures, new music, meet new people.

Later, however, it is only natural that most of us accept that you cannot live your entire life in that state of enquiring grace, but – having ‘been around the block’ – we then gradually tend to major upon the people, sports, experiences and genres of music, books and art that have become of lasting interest to us.

Perhaps I’m a weirdo, but I don’t regard this as a weakness or limiting factor at all.

What have always ‘raced my motor’ are the joys and energies to be gained from strong bonds of loyalty – e.g. to my school unit, sports teams, like-minded fans of a particular music artiste, and so on.

Maybe I’m institutionalised (or prone to be), but I respond positively to feeling part of my surroundings, gaining security, strength and lasting friendships from the experience.

In my youth, once I had ticked all the relevant boxes on the ‘list of worthwhile life relationships’ there was something in me that failed to see the point of continuously seeking out new ones. Who needs them when you’ve already gathered around you a set of potentially lifelong fellow team members?

Better to have ten rock-solid soul mates than a thousand acquaintances that you will never get to know properly, i.e. to the point of unadulterated, lasting, mutual trust and loyalty.

It’s only another aspect of the phenomenon that Rust contributors regularly blog about – the syndrome whereby, inevitably, as we age we first struggle to keep up but then gradually ‘fall behind’ on matters such as ‘current’ music fashions and modern technology.

And end up not caring about it, having accepted that we’re quite content with what we’ve got.

As one old pal once said to me, wondering aloud why my wife and I, out of a sense of obligation, had accepted a particular (less than exciting) party invitation that he had summarily rejected: “Life is far too short to keep doing things that you don’t want to do …”


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About Martin Roberts

A former motoring journalist, Martin lists amongst his greatest achievements giving up smoking. Three times. He holds to the view that growing old is not for the faint-hearted. More Posts