Many of us spend an obscene amount of time socializing with people we have nothing in common with.
It’s a giant waste of time.
The solution is to become selectively social. You must consciously manage whom you allow into your life — and whom not.
Learn what it takes to become socially selective, which advantages there are, and how you can apply this idea in your life.
What Does It Mean To Be Selectively Social?
The socially selective person is careful about whom they hang out with. They consciously choose the people in their lives based on certain criteria. Thus, they are always surrounded by people they respect.
Most people do the opposite. They leave their social connections up to chance. We befriend our classmates at college or our colleagues at work, simply because they happen to be around.
But this way, you end up with people you have little in common with. They don’t share your worldviews and they don’t support your goals.
Worse, by spending lots of time with random people, you are likely to pick up their bad habits. If everybody around you doesn’t do sports, you won’t either. If everyone is a gossip, you become one too. You are who you surround yourself with.
The socially selective person is acutely aware of that. They understand that if you allow the wrong people into your life, it can derail you. But carefully choose the right people, and it will propel you forward.
As a result, the socially selective person tends to have a small, handpicked group of friends. Theirs is a quality-over-quantity approach. It’s a form of social minimalism.
Being selectively social is not the same thing as being anti-social. An anti-social person does not enjoy the company of other people under any circumstances. The selectively social person does enjoy other people — if it’s the right people.
Why Is It Advantageous To Be Selectively Social?
All of us have to make do with limited resources — time, energy, and attention. How we invest these resources is up to us.
Most of us choose to squander them away. And our favorite way of doing so is by being overly social.
The water cooler chats. The pointless family gatherings. The drunken nights out. The Tinder escapades.
It’s all a massive time-sink. But still, we let it go on.
Being surrounded by others just feels too darn good. It’s a primal reflex. At the center of the herd, you feel engulfed by social warmth. It’s like being back in the womb.
The socially selective person refuses this self-surrender. In a game of limited resources, you have to make tough choices. And one such choice is to cut back on mindless socializing.
By limiting their social time, they regain the ability to act.
They build that dream business. They travel the world. They record that album.
The selectively social person does what everybody else won’t.
What You Need To Become Selectively Social
To function as a socially selective person, you must cultivate three traits:
- You mustn’t be afraid of loneliness
- You mustn’t despise others
- You mustn’t give in to social anxiety
1. You Mustn’t Be Afraid of Loneliness
If you want to be picky about whom you spend your time with, better be prepared to spend a lot of it alone.
Exceptional friends are, well, the exception. They are hard to come by.
This doesn’t bother the selectively social person. They are not afraid to be by themselves. They have two acceptable modes of being — a) no people or b) quality people. Everything in between is a waste.
Don’t fear loneliness. In an overconnected digital world, being able to be by yourself is a superpower. It leads to clear thinking. Embrace it.
All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.Blaise Pascal
2. You Mustn’t Despise Others
Some people take being socially selective as an excuse to look down on everybody else.
That is a mistake.
As long as you despise, you are still involved. You are still letting your negative emotions distract you from your most important work.
To be socially selective is to wisely manage your resources. Giving into contempt accomplishes the opposite. It uses up these resources.
I am not advocating a vanilla worldview. The herd can indeed be repulsive. But you can be intellectually aware of this while still not getting worked up about it.
To despise the world, to despise no person, to despise one’s self, to despise being despised.Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
3. You Mustn’t Give In to Social Anxiety
The label “socially selective” is sometimes used to rationalize social anxiety.
You have convinced yourself that you have so few friends because your standards are so high. But in truth, you are just afraid to talk to strangers.
Ironically, to become truly socially selective, you must first cultivate your ability to reach out. Master the art of talking to anybody — that person waiting in line with you, the guy sitting next to you on the airplane, the cashier at Target.
Only when you can make new connections at will, can you become picky. But you must have options first.
16 Signs You Are Selectively Social
To find out if you have socially selective tendencies, watch out for these signs.
1. You Have a Small Social Circle
You prefer quality over quantity. You would rather spend your Saturday night discussing life with your best friend rather than in the midst of a party crowd.
2. Being Social Costs You
Being surrounded by random people eats up your energy. Afterward, you have to recharge yourself first before you can do anything else.
3. You Always Check Who Is Coming
You like to ask who is going to attend an event beforehand. It’s your way of making sure you don’t get stuck with the wrong people.
4. You Don’t Mix Friends
You have a keen sense of who is compatible with whom. Thus, you avoid bringing friends together that won’t click. It’s a waste of everybody’s time.
5. You Stay Away From the Noise
Tweets, status updates, posts — a lot of social noise originates online. That’s why you like to limit your social media consumption.
6. You Have Standards
When it comes to friends or lovers, most people settle for whoever happens to be around.
Not you. You would rather be by yourself than compromise on your standards.
7. You Dislike Small Talk
Chit-chatting is not your thing. What is the point of wasting time on social niceties? Better to cut to the chase.
8. You Walk Away From Interactions
When you find yourself in a pointless social interaction, you will simply walk away. Why prolong something that is not beneficial to anyone?
9. You Don’t Reply Quickly
People often complain that you don’t get back to them quickly.
But from where you stand, it’s better to reply when you are in the right frame of mind than to reply just for the sake of replying.
10. You Don’t Bond Easily
Getting close to somebody is an investment. It costs you energy. Therefore, you don’t just bond with anybody but carefully choose.
11. Your Friendships Inspire You
You might have fewer friends, but these are an infinite source of joy.
12. You Prioritize Your Inner Peace
A calm state of mind is crucial to you. By managing whom you allow into your life, you preserve that state.
13. You Enjoy Being With Yourself
Many people are mortally afraid to be alone. They would rather be with anyone than be by themselves.
For you, it’s the opposite.
You enjoy your alone time because you are a friend to yourself.
If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.Jean-Paul Sartre
14. You Easily Look Through People
The social masks people wear don’t fool you. You quickly discern if somebody is worth spending time with.
15. You Are Perceived as Arrogant
When you are picky about whom you hang out with, many people will feel slighted. They will call you aloof and even arrogant.
16. You Cancel on People
Sometimes, you belatedly realize you shouldn’t meet up with person X. When that happens, you cancel on them.
That is not always well perceived. But to you, your time is more important than placating others.
How To Apply Being Selectively Social
Here is how you can apply being selectively social to different areas of your life.
1. Social Selectivity and the Workplace
When you work a 9 to 5, you don’t get to choose your colleagues. Someone else chooses them for you (your boss).
And chances are, most of these people you would have never chosen if it was up to you.
This is not something you can ignore. After all, we spend half of our time awake at work. So, if you are serious about being socially selective, you must find a way to quit your 9 to 5.
There are many options to do so that I have discussed in other articles — start a passion business, retire early, only work odd jobs, etc. — so I won’t repeat myself here.
But understand — as long as you are stuck with an office job, you won’t have control over your social ecosystem.
2. Being Selectively Social and Sex
No other person exudes as much influence over you as the person you have sex with. That means you should be extremely selective when it comes to choosing your mate.
However, this is not what most people do.
Average-looking men in particular have a tendency to settle for any woman that is willing to have sex with them. I used to work as a dating coach and saw it every day.
Don’t let that be you.
The key is to learn how to talk to people. The more often you reach out to strangers, the more likely you are going to find somebody (or several people) who are truly compatible with you. It’s a numbers game.
To be really picky, you must first create choices for yourself.
3. Selective Social Media Usage
Social media tries to recreate social events online. However, the virtual version is much worse than the real thing.
With a real social event, there is a limited number of attendees. Also, you are typically talking to one person at a time. And at some point, the party is officially over.
Social media removes all of these safeguards. There are not 50 people in attendance, but 5 billion. Everybody is talking at once. Worst of all, the party never stops.
This means you need to create safeguards yourself. Don’t check your phone first thing in the morning. Limit your online time. Give monk mode a try.
This will put you ahead.
In a world addicted to doom scrolling, being the one person without a social media habit becomes a massive competitive edge. While everybody has their heads down, you are getting stuff done.