Time to make life social again

Trying to make it big in LA

Engineering systems that make our lives easier can be complex, machine learning models that govern what we see contain even billions of parameters, yet human psychology is probably even more intricate. Having been living in various forms of social distancing and quarantines over the past few months, we can easily forget how important interactions with other humans are. Do you still remember how hard it is to coordinate with another human or form a well-functioning relationship?

Getting out of the Covid social black hole

In the past two months I had the opportunity to experience again how social complexity increases exponentially with the number of people and diversity of personalities. We drove 3500 miles from New York to Los Angeles and lived together for another few weeks in a group of up to 12 people. Imagine the number of different characters interacting with each other and living in the same space, must be tough right? Yet being a super social person, I would not have traded it for anything else.

One may think that coexisting with others, making living arrangements and social plans is easy. After all every each of us went through college being generally active and having made plenty of friends. Yet unexpectedly things usually go south after graduation. All of a sudden it becomes so hard to even see the same people at a more regular cadence. There is one significant difference — life in college is constrained by the university environment while life afterwards is not. In the same fashion as one being able to move to any other city in the world after graduation, one can make million plans in their limited spare time that they need to optimize it.

Surrounded by rocks and fun people

During our trip we, both implicitly and explicitly, flipped the reality and moved to the socially constrained world. When we drove together, we had to follow a particular route and make same stops. On the other hand when we lived together, we were encouraged to do similar things due to having limited transportation options. Although simple, this setup change led to a vastly different social dynamic than in regular life — it eliminated the option to walk away and forced us to make compromises.

Soon enough the complexity of social interactions quickly kicked in. It’s never easy to make joint plans with your significant other yet it is much easier to fully understand each due to deeper layers of communication. We have invested more time to make it work and have made sacrifices before, but we have not done the same with the 8th and 9th person in the group. Observing this natural experiment, people had many different ways of ensuring well-being of the group that it was refreshing to see after months of social separation.

Although it was not easy to satisfy everyone in the group at all times, we managed to get through it successfully. Who would have remembered how demanding it is to live together? After all Covid presented its own set of challenges but it was much more fun to focus on the more satisfying problems to solve. At the end of the day, it was eye-opening how hard it is to navigate complex group dynamics that are hard to replicate anywhere else regardless of Covid.

Having moved abroad recently, I already miss it and can’t wait to be part of the crew again.

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ML enthusiast / Aspiring entrepreneur / Wanderlust Software Engineer / www.marekromanowicz.com

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Marek Piotr Romanowicz

Marek Piotr Romanowicz

ML enthusiast / Aspiring entrepreneur / Wanderlust Software Engineer / www.marekromanowicz.com

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