Friendship

Why do people become friends? Last week this was the key question at the science café where I was in the audience. Friendships are all about connection, which made me really curious about the findings and whether that could also be the scientific explanation for Two minute connection.

Friendship or getting connected with anyone in a broader perspective; are we doing this from a selfish perspective, because we need it ourselves, or is there an altruistic reason, because we do it for the other person? Why do people sit down, when they see me with my sign? Are they sitting down to do me a favour or do they do it for themselves? And why do I do it?

The three scientists approached friendship from their areas of expertise; the connection between humans and animals, the ancient philosophers and social media. Animals which are well taken care for are loyal, but are they loyal out of unconditional love or because of the total dependence on their owner for their basic needs like food and shelter. During the Greek and Roman empires there were no social securities, which made connections a financial must-have in order to increase survival chance in rough times. And with every new communication technology evolving, the pessimists declare that this will be the end of any form of human interaction, which still has not occurred.

Two minute connection in the light of those areas of expertise; obviously animals are not involved and there is no dependency on food or shelter either. There is also no financial reason why others or I are getting connected. Social media are certainly causing some people to be that much engaged with their phone that they miss out on my sign. On the other hand, it also causes people who do see my sign, to respond extra positively because it is such a difference with those phone-gazers.

So why do others and I do get connected? Is there a dependency in a different way, is the feeling to be connected necessary to survive? I cannot speak for others, but this is my view; of course I get connected because I do think it is wonderful and important to be connected, which is a selfish thought. But without this conviction I wouldn’t be able to connect from the heart. I genuinely love to connect. The many confirmations that it makes other people cheerful, relaxed and happy, yes, that makes me happy too, which is altruistic.

Maybe altruistic and selfishness are coming together during a connection. Still I think there is something else, something much bigger. Something that could not be proven during the science café, something that science has never been able grasp nor measure; love. Without any obligations, a loving moment between two strangers for two minutes on a random bench. That is something science cannot beat.

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