Social mobility vs social connection

Recently a friend of mine commented how "Khmer people live with the most basic of amenities, and they are the 3rd happiest people on the planet. How is it that the rest of us have designer clothes and luxury cars and still be grumpy all the time?".

Sentiments like these, we hear too often..

Also recently, as I was chatting with a few other friends of mine, I saw a theme emerge in those conversations... which was the exact other side of the above coin!
Some of these friends moved in a deliberate attempt to pursue better opportunities, more professional, material success, to make it "big" and all of them were generally disappointed with the inability to make meaningful social connections wherever they landed. Some blamed it on their age/life stage and others on the culture of the new place.

Connecting the two, I have come up with a hypothesis and also a simple mathematical logic that supports the hypothesis.

The hypothesis:
When someone deliberately, actively makes an effort to move up the social ladder, he/she progressively loses the ability to make meaningful social connections.

And here is the math behind the hypothesis:
Say I belong to top 5% and am too keen to move up to the top 3%. My mind, my attention is all focused on the top 3% because that is where I want to be. As a result I am not paying attention to the bottom 97%. The 97%'s weekend local public library trip no longer interests me. I am more interested in hearing about the 3%'s alpine ski trip & dreaming about such a lifestyle for myself. Right there, I have alienated the majority of the people I could forge strong meaningful connections with. I am left with a much smaller group of people that I am interested in - just the 3% on the top.

Now let's assume that half of the top 3% are quite eager to move up to the top 1%. This half, in turn is focused on those above them, is not going to be interested in what I have to share & offer. Net-net, I am now left with only 1.5% of the people that I started with.

In essence, I am interested in belonging to a group where a good number of them are not interested in me. They are interested in connecting with those above them on whatever scale they use.

Going back our original scenario, it is actually sadder for someone in the top 3% who is keenly interested in moving up to the top 1%, because he is going to be alienating the 99% that are not in his zone of interest and some fraction (let's say half) of the top 1% is probably looking to move up to the top 0.1%, hence is not interested in him. This guy in effect is going to be lonelier than me.

And hence, my hypothesis... as one actively, deliberately tries to move up the social ladder, one progressively loses the ability to make meaningful social connections.

Some necessary clarifications:
As I write this, I feel compelled to make some clarifications. It is not the wealth or the material success that poses the problem.

It is actually, 
     a) our desire to seek more combined with
     b) mixing up friendship and thinking of our social connections primarily (primarily      being the key word) as a ticket to our prosperity
that causes the agony!

To further explain (a)...
Bill Gates is really wealthy & successful. If he is not that interested in moving up, then he is not going to be uninterested in those below him and hence is not going to lose his ability to connect with those below him.

And to elaborate on (b)...
Generally speaking, we do prosper with our connections. That is bound to happen naturally & should happen naturally. It is a side effect. When it becomes the primary criteria for seeking out friendships & relationships, then we have met condition (b).

Some possible solutions:
1. Try hard & get rid of all scales. Stop measuring & benchmarking. This is actually super hard. I don't think I can actually achieve this now!

2. When meeting friends online & offline, try to share ideas, share life experiences (not lifestyles & there is a big difference!)..the idea is not to feed information for the scale!

3. If possible seek some non-material successes. To the extent you are thinking about the non-material goals, your mind will be distracted from the material goals!
In all honesty, I am not a big fan of this solution either. We may potentially start measuring one another using some "non-material" scale and run into the same problem as before. I actually prefer #1!!

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