Dunbar’s 150

Residential NeighborhoodCommunity has many definitions. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a unified group of individuals,” “a group of people with the same interests,” or “a group of people with the same interests [or backgrounds].” These definitions are not mutually exclusive, but extremely varied. First appearing the late 14th century, from Latin, the word was primarily used to mean “a body of fellows or fellow-townsmen,” but also had additional meanings, including “a community of relations or feelings.” The word, in layman’s terms, implies a unification, whether due to geography or interest.

People form and join many communities over the course of their life. Dunbar’s number, which is a limit to the number of true friendships or relationships a person can keep track of, is 150. 150 complex, intricate connections and the emotional ties that come with them.

The average classroom has 30 or so students. If each of those students has 121 friends (150 minus the 29 other students in the classroom), those students combined have 3,630 friends.

The human ability to be so multifaceted that one person can be connected to 150 people is remarkable. Sitting here writing this, I can’t count 150 people I know, much less 150 friends. It is mind boggling that I have that many connections, and it makes me wonder about the people I am connected to, about who of the 150 will stay with me. It makes me wonder about connections I have made and then forgotten. But mostly, it makes me grateful for the ability to share rare, beautiful connections with others who are willing to count me as their 150.

– Zarra Marlowe, Junior Submissions Editor