Getting along with popular people

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now but it all came together a while back. The basic funda is that I find it extremely hard to hang out with people who are generally popular and who everyone wants to hang out with. On the other hand, I find it significantly easier to hang out with other people who generally most people consider as being “arrogant” and hard to hang out with.

I wonder if it is connected with what Christian Rudder writes in Dataclysm on people who have been rated a few 5s and a few 1s being more likely to find a partner than one who is rated a consistent 3 (holding average rating constant). Basically if there is someone who is generally popular, they are something like a consistent 5, and they are perhaps generally popular because they exhibit the kind of behaviour or attributes that most people like. Effectively they cater to what I can uncharitably call the lowest common denominator of popularity among people, and that generally means they spend most of their effort catering to that (being “generally nice” and all such) that there is very little idiosyncrasy that they can offer which makes them interesting!

And with time the fact that they are popular affects them, and they expect that everyone like them to the same (high) extent as everyone else! And when you start asking yourself what the big deal about them is, and start wondering why they’re so popular, there is a “respect mismatch” – the respect you are willing to offer them doesn’t match up to the respect they expect (thanks to being generally popular), and you can’t hang out for long.

With people who are generally not particularly popular and branded as “arrogant” by most people, firstly there is no expectation of respect as they generally know that they are not particularly popular. Secondly, the fact that makes them arrogant also makes them interesting to people who are interested along that axis. The fact that they are not generally popular means that there is an idiosyncrasy about them, and if you happen to like that you can get along very well with them!

Of course, I admit to selection bias here. There definitely exist people who are generally classified as “arrogant” who I also find arrogant and don’t hang out with. But there exist a lot of people who are generally classified as “arrogant” who I get along quite well with!

Going back to Rudder’s ratings, I’m likely to rate people who are generally considered “arrogant” either a 1 or a 5 – the idiosyncrasy sends them to either extreme. Thus there are a few of them who I love hanging out with irrespective of what the world has to say about them. As for the popular guys, I’m very likely to rate them a 3 – basically unspectacular, and going by Rudder’s theory, “meh”. And since they expect the general counterparty to rate them higher than that, there’s a mismatch when I meet them and things fall apart.

Makes sense? What has your experience been of people in relation to how other people rate them?

3 thoughts on “Getting along with popular people”

  1. interesting stuff.

    for me it isn’t about ‘arrogant’. ‘arrogant’ is one of the many unpopular traits that’s all. there are several other undesirable-for-lowest-common-denominator traits like nerdiness, being pedantic, having unconventional tastes, having unconventional lifestyles, etc. lots of these idiosyncrasies are hit or miss, so the mere presence of one or more of these traits aren’t enough to like or dislike someone. but as you say, it does make people more ‘interesting’. mostly because it makes them more ‘genuine’, because they aren’t used to worrying about conventions much and have more regular, open interactions with you.

    The ‘popular’ folks also have an image to maintain, and being confronted with others’ idiosyncrasies means you have to take a stance on some thing. they are less likely to do that, because they dont want to rub their ‘society’ the wrong way.

    this kind of leads to ‘popular’ people hanging out with other ‘popular’ people. so all those in-group dynamics also come into play, which makes them hold on to their ‘normal’-ness even more.

    the other effect is, if you being an idiosyncratic person is friends with a popular person, you have a high chance of being their ‘ friend’. they are less likely to have unconventional friends, so you’ll most likely be unique enough to them to be their ‘gay friend’ or ‘nerdy friend’ or ‘arrogant friend’. obviously people don’t like being known by their idiosyncrasy among people they consider friends. so the dynamic likely to develop is not going to be one of intimate friendship, because one always sees the other as ‘the other’.

    1. strongly agree with you. interesting correlation between idiosyncrasies and genuineness – so do you say that people who are “popular” spend a lot of effort in hiding their idiosyncrasies?

      And if I’m idiosyncratic and am friends with a “popular” guy most of whose friends are “normal” “average”, then if they hang out with this popular guy at the same time as I, I’m likely to get bored and quit the group!

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