Monday, June 3, 2013

Got More Than 150 Facebook Friends? You’re living a lie

Dunbar's Number 150 Friends on Facebook
Dunbar's Number 150 Friends on Facebook

In 1992, long before social media was heard of British anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that there is a cognitive limit to the amount of stable people you can be friends with. By stable, he meant individual interactions. The number that was coined was 150, meaning your brain can only handle that many friends. Dunbar has delved into the idea so deeply; the number 150 has been labeled "Dunbar's Number." And according to recent studies that matrix applies to our favorite social networks as well.

According to studies conducted (Global Statistics),
1. The average Facebook user has 130 friends.
2. The average Twitter user has 126 followers.
3. LinkedIn users average around 60 connections.

And according to a local study done by a social media agency( LOOPS Solutions );  40% of Women know less than half of their Friends on Facebook whist 30% of men know less than half of their friends on Facebook.

Personally, I think this number is high.  Just think a minute! During a month’s period how many friends do you really keep in contact with in real life? For me, the number could go down to as much as 30.On Facebook a regular man has around 130 friends and generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual's photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is a touch more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Dunbar claims if you break it down.. Girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together,”

Being in the business of social media I could undoubtedly say that we Sri Lankans are way above the global statistics and run up to about a 500 friends on average. Dunbar says there are some neurological mechanisms in place to aid us handle with the ever-growing volume of social acquaintances life seems to entail.  Individuals have the capability to facially identify about 1,500 people on average. Well if you look into the practical aspects of networking and link building you are not required to recall every single individual you've ever met in your head. Further, you really can’t.  Hence are you one of the many who regularly think “I've got too many friends on Facebook— I don't know who half these people are?”  Have you ever thought that social networks have permitted us to size massive networks of weak bonds?

So you may ask how we can go beyond this issue? Cause many of us Sri Lankans have a far greater number of friends than 150 on our Facebook profiles. Chris brogan the CEO of Human Business Networks says if you’re looking to connect with people, connect with those who are cultivating powerful networks of their own. Finding the right groups of 150 could help you greatly. That way, your 150 is amplified by those other people’s 150s. One social media expert, Jacob Morgan, has even argued that Dunbar's number is irrelevant: those weak ties can prove much more useful in networking, because they form bridges to worlds we do not walk within.  Strong ties, on the other hand, tend to be worlds we already know; a good friend often knows many of the same people and things we know.  They are not the best when it comes to searching for new jobs, ideas, experts, and knowledge.  Weak ties are also good because they take less time.  It's less time consuming to talk to someone once a month (weak tie) than twice a week (a strong tie).  People can keep up quite a few weak ties without them being a burden.

Practically if you look at it, having boundless amount of connections is considered a super power in this time of age. Let’s face it, living in an Asian culture where relationships are highly treasured the number of relatives, business contacts and other acquaintances are going to grow well over 150. The objective is to manage your relationships online and offline in a way that you can stay open and personable at all times. And As far as real friendship goes, well, I'm not sure that Facebook is the best indicator or evaluating stick for it. Because you might have had personal experience where countless Facebook friends you have added has just passed you by without even noting you.


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