Escaping the Monkeysphere

Caring about people is hard.
So many people and needs.
So much going on, going wrong.


We can be left feeling limited – there’s only so much I can do.
Liable – I should have done more.
Lost – where can I start?
Lonely – who’s caring for me?

Often, we can’t identify with people because, put bluntly, we don’t care.
Some would argue that we can’t care.

They call it… the ‘monkeysphere.’

An anthropologist in the 90’s studied the way monkeys interacted and formed groups, and the difference in the size of those groups. He found a correlation between brain size and social group size:
Bigger monkey brain, bigger monkey pack.

He extrapolated that this was true for humans and that the average number of people that a human could know, interact with, and care about, is 148.

It makes sense of how we see the world.

Social media has blurred the lines.
Best friends forever and random acquaintances are both called ‘friends’ on Facebook.
Instagram and Twitter encourage you to pursue ‘followers.’
Google Plus saw what was happening and introduced ‘circles,’ so you could separate the schoolmates from the stalkers, the contacts and the colleagues.
You could categorise the connections into different circles.
Nice idea… but… well… no one used Google Plus.

People outside the inner circle, the ‘monkeysphere’… well you couldn’t really care less.


What does that mean for my 518 Facebook friends; are most of them faceless humanoids?
Or the homeless you walk past on the way to work or uni?
Or the person walking around the shops who looks like they’re about to cry?

I’m not convinced the ‘monkeysphere’ exists.
At its core is an observation about the way we relate in community.
The idea is based on our ability, our capacity to build and maintain relationships.
It says that the amount of care we can give is finite, limited.

But God has written a different theory – it’s infinite, unlimited!
A life where self-giving, self-lowering, isn’t constrained by human ability.
A life where relationships are not based on our relationships with one another…
but instead are modelled on, empowered by, our relationship with the one who came to serve;
whose self-sacrificial death gives us life.


This is an excerpt from the sermon entitled, “Not Looking to Your Own Interests”.