The Monkeysphere for humans is about 150 individuals: the number of people you think of as being in your social group.
I think it only fair to say that the phrase the Monkeysphere came from Cracked.com, though it’s based on serious scientific research done at the University of Liverpool:
Humans are primates, too – so do they fit into the pattern established for monkeys and apes? This is the key question which Robin Dunbar sought to answer by using the same equations to predict human social group and clique size from neocortex volume. The results were… ~150 for social group size, and ~12 for the more intimate clique size. He subsequently discovered that modern humans operate on a hierarchy of group sizes. (Research Intelligence)
The number of people in Scotland who are willing to tell any researcher with a clipboard that their sexual orientation is lesbian, gay, or bisexual, has been calculated to be 47,923.
The cube root of 47,923 is 36.32297 – well under the monkeysphere limit. It is entirely plausible to me that every out LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) person in Scotland is, via their interconnecting monkeyspheres, in touch at no more than two removes with every other out person in Scotland. (Being “out” is a matter of degree, of course: you may be unwilling to tell a stranger with a clipboard and still be out in your local LGBT community.)
Once upon a time, if you were out about being queer, your social group was likely to consist almost entirely of other out queer people.
The cube root of the population of Scotland (5,254,800 in 2011) is 173.85428 – just over the monkeysphere limit.
If you are heterosexual, the chances are that unless you work quite hard to avoid it, your own monkeysphere of about 150 people includes half a dozen to a dozen LGBT people. Each person in your monkeysphere has their own monkeysphere (which may overlap to some extent with yours) – and because you’re part of their monkeysphere, whether or not they’d tell a researcher with a clipboard, probably at least half of the LGBT people you know are okay with everyone in their monkeysphere knowing their sexual orientation. (The other half may not consider you properly part of their monkeysphere – or may only have told people inside their more intimate “grooming clique” group of a dozen.)
“In primate species, total group sizes may be quite large”, [Robin Dunbar] explains, “but individual primates usually belong to a smaller social sub-group, on which they rely for support when conflicts break out. The number of regular grooming partners they have may be much smaller, though. For instance, chimps belong to social groups comprising about 50 individuals, but they have only two or three grooming partners.”
If you are out and LGBT, the chances are that your monkeysphere has a much higher proportion of LGBT people but it seems unlikely that (unless you work quite hard at it) that your monkeysphere is exclusively LGBT.
Over the past few years, support for LGBT equality has been steadily rising to a solid two-thirds of the population of Scotland. (The remaining third are solidly convinced that discrimination against gay people is what makes baby Jesus smile.)
Simple: you know the people inside your monkeysphere are proper human beings. Regardless of what people outside your monkeysphere tell you about them. You may talk yourself into believing that all the other LGBT people outside your own monkeysphere are the ones that make baby Jesus cry.
But the LGBT people inside your monkeysphere connect you at one remove with all the LGBT people in their monkeysphere. Difficult to treat as less than human the people they regard as human.
The monkeysphere will bring same-sex marriage to Scotland. Even though monkeys don’t get married.
Zoo-keepers are preparing a special Valentine’s Day treat for a pair of love-struck gay monkeys named Elton and David. The male spider monkeys, who share an enclosure in the zoo at Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire, became a couple last March, a park spokeswoman said.
Colin Bryan, the park’s managing director, said: “They have been inseparable since they got together last year, and they love to spend their time cuddling and kissing one another. They make a wonderful couple and to celebrate their first Valentine’s Day we plan to give them a special romantic meal.”