When we choose to lose weight, we forgo sugar and junk food; when we choose to learn a new subject, we forgo impulsive and momentary pleasures; and when we opt to be moral we choose to accept the possibility of having fewer friends.
I understand some people will dislike the idea that being moral entails one will have fewer friends, but there are good reasons for such a fact. Those reasons are:
- Differences in morals leads to smaller pools of potential compatible people to befriend.
- Being a moral person leads to differences in values, and thus a difference in preferences and interests.
- Moral people enforce punishment or assert themselves against those who violate their morals.
Each of these points can be used to explain, to some degree, why moral people have fewer friends. And so, we will address each.
Smaller Selection Size
Someone who has refined their morals, especially to a great degree, over hundreds of hours of reflection, becomes far more selective than those who are of less moral development.
Just as someone who has decided to eat healthy foods discerns and carefully selects their foods, all while rejecting plenty of unhealthy options, a moral person will discern and carefully select their immediate social circle, all while rejecting plenty of immoral people; they will reject the average person and accept only those who seldom, if at all, violate their moral standards.
As a result of said discriminatory behaviours, the moral person will have a smaller selection of compatible people to choose from; that is, the greater the moral threshold, the smaller the available populace for companionship becomes: a greater level of incompatibilities will arise.
And the smaller the number of possible people to choose from, the lower the quotient will be for establishing friends; meaning, before our moral developments, we might have a quotient of 10/1000, but after our moral developments, our quotient will be more akin to 5/75. Thus, morals bear onto us a fate wherein which we have fewer friends because there are some people who are antithetical to those morals.
(Related Article: My Friend Has No Morals)
Differences in Values
There will also of course be times where, though we have no incompatibility with others, as would be the case in the previous section, we will simply lack any compatibility in general; only because morals presuppose values, and others will lack our shared values, an essential component to companionship.
For instance, someone who enjoys partying and consuming exorbitant amounts of alcohol will seldom become companions with a studious, isolationist book-worm who dislikes both parties and alcohol. And their lack of companionship will have little todo with morality. Much rather, their lack of connection will stem from the difference in their values, neither of them will see the appeal to socializing together.
So, due to the differences in values, those who are moral will have fewer friends than would be otherwise, as morals entails more values and thus more selectivity in the friendship making process. Not everyone will be incompatible, but neither will everyone necessarily be compatible.
Admonishment and Assertivness
It ought be no surprise that the moral both admonish those that violate their moral standards and assert their moral standards, to the point of tension, amongst others. Two behaviours which not only acquire enemies but also culminate a general dislike.
On the one hand, those who are deemed evil or wrong-doers by the moral, more often than not, have the preference to not be labelled as so; that is, because evil-doers are rejected and ostracized from society, people hope to avoid being labelled as such in fear of the treatment that comes with such labels. But, since the moral overtly ignore the preferences of others to not receive such labels, they make enemies. People who receive the label of evil, immoral, or bad person often become upset with, to the point of being hostile towards, the moral individual who assigned them that label. And thus, being moral can cause others around you to be hostile towards you.
Now, on the other hand, the moral person who, irrespective of the social setting, speaks truth about the nature of good and evil, especially when members of a social group are doing evil, evokes a general dislike from others.
People, on average, have a high regard for their moral traits, that they are incredibly moral and benign individuals; and when someone points to those who hold themselves in high moral regard and highlights their immoral traits and behaviours, a great degree of cognitive dissonance will be felt by those who hold themselves in high regard: reality and self-perception will be at odds with one another.
So, because people, in general, don’t enjoy cognitive dissonance, and because people, in general, have high regard for their moral capacities, many people who we hold morally accountable will dislike us. Rather than go through the difficult process of becoming a moral individual, and rather than accepting the unfavourable reality of their capacity for morality, immoral people would rather express dislike and disdain for the moral.
Thus, by being moral, one can expect fewer friends; only because there are fewer people who actually desire to bring morality into every day life, due to the tensions that it can cause: the average person prefers social harmony over moral responsibility and accountability. So, since moral people are assertive and admonish the immoral, the moral make fewer friends.
What Should we Think?
Is it a problem that, if we are moral, we will have less friends? A reasonable question to ask, as such plainly seems a reasonable concern. However, I see no problem with the result of having less friends, and for a few reasons.
First, one ought to do good not just when it suits them, but always. Being good should never be subjugated to a less important consequence, such as impressing a random stranger.
Second, the quality of friends someone makes should likewise weight more than the quantity of friends; only because one good friend will be immensely better than five shallow friends. For example, a good friend will be more willing to become encumbered with your problems than shallow friends.
So, we should embrace as a necessary trade-off the fact that being moral comes with having fewer friends, such a fact is something we ought embrace openly and honestly. We need not delude ourselves about the nature of our social lives when we become moral individuals, nor need we feel ashamed for having fewer friends, in the same way that a warrior who has scars need feel no shame about them. In fact, someone who has too many friends is as equally suspicious as a warrior who has no scars; only because it suggests they have no experience with anything other than rudimentary events. Moral people have less friends, and that is an acceptable trade-off for those who seek to recognize good in the world.