Many people ask me what it means, or how to read it. People often think the bigger, more central names are an estimation of who their best friends are. I don't see this group like that. Instead, the big, central names are likely to be a good estimation of who you are. If I see a stranger's MindMap, and I know some of the people in the central core, the things I know about them probably describe the stranger pretty well, too.
I always see two major groups when I look at my MindMap. One is "funny, nervous people". They're blue here, north of me. I call the other group "Euro-art anarchists". They're big, in green. Even though every MindMap I've made for myself is different, they all show these two groups. This is because everyone within these groups is a reader of everyone else. If you think about it, if five people all read each other, those five people have made 20 separate friendship decisions! Yet they probably didn't sit down one day and decide to friend each other. It happened over time, for its own myserious but undeniable reasons.
With most browsers, you can hover your mouse over names in a MindMap to see where some people live. People who have their own MindMaps have [brackets] around their names, and you can click to go to their MindMap. Using brackets, you can surf around groups near you, and perhaps learn more about your neighborhood. Often I see core groups all living in the same city. distantsun's MindMap even shows a Perth, Australia core, a London, England smaller core, and a cluster of other Europeans beyond that. It's practically a history lesson.
Sometimes I see LJ'ers in a solid core of friends... from all over the world. You can be LJ friends with four other people throughout the world. But what does it mean when all five of you are friends with each other? That's 20 independent choices! That has to mean something... but what?
My friend zeet called this an "unconscious psychological organization". It's unlikely these people sat down and promised to all read each other. And they're not living in the same city, either. Instead, they've met in an entirely mental space, and for specific, unique reasons, found a kinship together.
Before I saw my 2 inner cores, I had no clue what they might be. But seeing those groups around me, I can say that I definitely find myself drawn to them! I remember the day I discovered most of those journals for the first time, and just knew this was someone very special. I wondered why the pull felt so strong.
These are not the questions MindMap can answer. It can only show you the data, but it can't explain why. So many things bring people together (or push them apart). What makes friendships grow, and communities form? People have formed tribes, clubs, and parties since the beginning of time. Political parties try to represent the values of groups of people. Forming groups seems part of our human nature, and groups are at the heart of headlines and world events. Loneliness is as big a risk to your health as smoking.
Sociologists and political scientists have looked at many facets of personality and beliefs. Liberal or conservative, hostile or friendly, dominant or submissive? And people share cultural, religious, age, or other bonds. I think all these factors blend to build our friendship networks.
I want to hear your thoughts on friendship networks.
- What factors do you think create them?
- Are they ever planned?
- Is there a limit to their potential size?
- Have you experienced a whole group splitting apart?
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