bringing together people and ideas
Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, on ‘Connectors’:
‘[I]n the case of Connectors, their ability to span many different worlds is a function of their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy [ . . . ]
“[W]eak ties” are always more important than strong ties. Your friends [ . . . ] occupy the same world that you do. [ . . . ] Your acquaintances, on the other hand, by definition occupy a very different world than you. They are much more likely to know something that you don’t. Granovetter coined a marvelous phrase: the strength of weak ties. Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have, the more powerful you are [ . . . ]
‘Most of us [ . . . ] shy away from [ . . . ] cultivat[ing . . . ] acquaintances. We have our circle of friends, to whom we are devoted. Acquaintances we keep at arm’s length. The reason we don’t send birthday cards to people we don’t really care a great deal about is that we don’t want to feel obliged to have dinner with them or see a movie with them or visit them when they’re sick. The purpose of making an acquaintance, for most of us, is to evaluate whether we want to turn that person into a friend; we don’t feel we have the time or the energy to maintain meaningful contact with everyone.
Horchow [( a Connector)] is quite different. The people he puts in his diary or in his computer are acquaintances – people he might run into only once a year or once every few years – and he doesn’t shy away from the obligation that that connection requires. He has mastered [ . . . ] the “weak tie”, a friendly yet casual social connection. More than that, he’s happy with the weak tie. After I met Horchow, I felt slightly frustrated. I wanted to know him better, but I wondered whether I would ever have the chance. I don’t think he shared the same frustration with me. I think he’s someone who sees value and pleasure in a casual meeting.
Why is Horchow so different from the rest of us? He doesn’t know. He thinks it has something to do with being an only child whose father was often away. But that doesn’t really explain it. Perhaps it is best to call the Connector impulse simply that – an impulse, just one of the many personality traits that distinguish one human being from another.’
I think it is probably different for people who keep moving about. In a sense, it’s easier for them to maintain more close friendships since distance is always an excuse for not seeing close friends as often as close friends should meet, and the advent of email has made it possible for close friends to remain in contact.