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Social networking

July 27, 2010

Dunbar’s number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar’s number, but a commonly cited approximation is 150.

How many friends do we have in our social networking accounts? I think well above this number. I have an orkut account in which I used to be very active until two years back. Then I moved to FaceBook and I gradually became totally inactive in orkut. The simple reason is FB is lot more fun. I have had friends much above the number 150 always in my accounts. But come to think of it, I have hardly known some of them and have hardly spoken to many for years now. Still why are they in my friends list? Because it felt so rude to reject the request from a known person, even though you hardly keep in touch with them. Still, I must say social networking sites have helped me find friends whom I lost touch with after my schooldays; it also keeps me updated on the important events of their lives and re-kindle many of the old friendships. But, one of my favourite pet peeves is ‘people trying to make frandship after finding my profile interesting’. Its funny. I don’t know when these people will learn to act more maturely and stop ‘making frandships’ over a website. The crimes that you seeing happening over a social networking site is also alarming.

I think its all a matter of drawing the line and understanding whom you want to ‘friend’ and whom you should ‘defriend’ to retain the sanctity of your online identity. After these sites have its own advantages too. Let the number of friends be above 150, after all this is one place where all of your friends can co-exist 🙂

Interesting Fact: According to a latest study, pictures from FaceBook are increasingly used as evidence while fighting divorce cases in United States.

  1. 150? :OA few interesting lines taken from "The future shock" by Alvin Toffler."The more intimately involved a relationship (friendship), the greater the pressure the parties exert on one another to fulfill these expectations.""In an urban environment the attempt to 'involve' one-self fully with everyone can lead only to self-destruction and emotional emptiness. Urban man, must have more or less impersonal relationships with most of the people with whom he comes in contact precisely in order to choose certain friendships to nourish and cultivate"These facts leads to 'superficial' or 'modular' relationship. Rather than entangling with a whole person (as happens in our native places), we plug into a module of his personality (as happens in cities). Say, for example, our boss may be interested only in one module of our personality, ie, the ability to deliver work. Nothing more, nothing less.As you pointed out, as the number of friendships increase, the duration of such friendships has to decrease to cater the increased number, which will again lead to more superficial behavior. 150 is a big number!

  2. My 2 centsTake any social networking site the people that you interact with are not the people whom your are close with there are several other preferred ways of communicating with them. The people whom we interact with (mostly) are the people who are more active on the networking site and need not be people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.So this makes the very purpose of using a social networking site questionable.Mostly [with all due respect] social networking sites is better way for people to kill some time so why should i bother what updates i get. If i am genuinely interested in social networking one should prefer places like twitter where there the choice vests with the user.Having said that if we wish not to receive updates from some one on my friends list. There is a way to respectfully block them in all the networking sites.

  3. From anon: As per my understanding, main reason for them to become popular were as they provide: 1. A place which gives one real time promotional space, with TRP, apart from it gives one feeling of being important and appreciated which is rare to find(e.g. One cannot select his/her surrounding, i mean work place, neighbours) so one can live euphoria of being with(atleast on virtual world) those where one's real self is appreciated. 2. On "Number of friends" i would say one comes across many people in life with + ve/ -ve, experiences but with each one of them, one shares some mutual bonding. So here these sites provide space to share that and to know someone's interest if it matches with your's so one keeps on accepting for one or other reason. 3. Where you can broadcast various sides of your personality(apart from news) on various verticals. Many point still coming would write sometimes later getting late.

  4. @Madhu: Very well said and I agree to all your points. @RM: I agree to the point on twitter. You can just follow whomsoever you feel like having a conversation with and it doesn't come with all the fancy stuff associated with a social networking site. And yes, we are more updated about people who are more active in the social networking site and its a nice way to kill time too.@anon: very valid points anon. Totally agree to your point on broadcasting different sides of personality. For many people, its more easier to project in that kind of a portal than in real world.

  5. Well, I would like to give one comment here knowing the fact that people befriend unknown people in FB or Orkut and then use them the maximum[deliberately] and finally when they reach a level in their life where they find new people interesting [owing to the factors like money, may be a job or life abroad!] leave the other person in a state of depression . There is no true mutual bonding in such sites. Its all fake. I feel people should grow up to know what they want from life rather than acting foolish by befriending people in such sites!And yeah maturity is self understanding and it doesnt come wit age!

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