So I just heard about Shine Theory

So I just heard about Shine Theory for the first time. And my first thought was, “you mean this isn’t how everyone does it?”

So here are a few scattered thoughts on the idea that being friends with smart, powerful, motivated, creative people makes your life better.

1. Of course it’s possible to be mercenary about it. To deliberately seek out smart, powerful, etc and try to ingratiate yourself into their lives for the single purpose of benefiting yourself without giving anything back. This is not new. It’s called sucking up, and humans have been both doing it and defending ourselves against it for millenia.

2. It’s also possible to mistake the brittle brilliance of the incredibly emotionally needy for smart, powerful, etc. In which case one might find oneself mired in a sucking vortex of codependence. If you find that your relationship with this other person isn’t improving your life, that’s probably a sign.

3. I love how this works in my life. I love the people I know who are accomplished and accomplishing, who are working on new things, who are critiquing and creating and thinking and talking. I love the volunteers and the professionals, the quick wits and careful arguments. I love being in an occasional position to recommend someone for a job or blog post. I love bringing my friends to each others’ attention.

4. It’s not about knowing FAMOUS people. We don’t all get to know Beyonce. But I do get to meet brilliant, motivated, scathing, funny women at conventions and conferences. I get to meet people online, become fans of their work, introduce myself to them at conventions, and find out whether we have anything in common. I can’t really count the number of times this has made a friend for me. I also cannot count how many times I’ve met the person and we don’t click — I don’t keep track of those. What would the point be?

5. Humans, we’re smarter than we think. We know when we are lying to ourselves, and no amount of lying to ourselves makes us feel good and safe and secure. If you make friends with people who are not your peers, not better than you at some things, not more successful than you at SOME things, you know in your heart that your success isn’t worth as much as it could be. It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you know you’ve gerrymandered your comparison pool.


That’s not really a coherent review of Shine Theory, but it’s what I’ve been pondering this week.


2 Responses

  1. I was burned very badly by item 2 on this list relatively recently, and it’s so gratifying to see it spelled out so clearly. That. (PS, still finishing HoC S3. Email when I do!)

  2. My partner and I have had conversations about this several times. Back in our 20s we realized we did not have enough time to participate in all the social groups that were appealing to both of us. We looked at the SCA, Twin Cities SF fandom, gaming and at least one other community. Our criteria was where we could find the most people who were doing interesting things with their lives. (We chose SF fandom)

    It was clear that some groups catered to people who were not dealing well with real life and wanted escapism while others were better at supporting creative people.

    We are having the same conversation again now that we are in a different city. We no longer have the easy social group access of belonging to a university community. If anything, our standards have gotten higher. Finding the shiny people is our current challenge.

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