Društvo| Život

Dunbar's Number

Chris Farmer RSS / 15.11.2011. u 19:57

According to what I could discover (and I am sure there is some overly-befriended Facebooker out there who may correct me) the maximum amount of friends you can have on Facebook is five thousand. Five thousand fellow humans whom we call our friends.

5,000? Really?

Scrolling through the ever-changing Facebook interface, one sees people with extraordinarily high friend counts. Personally, I have only seen one with more than 3,000, but I am willing to accept that at least one user (if not many more) has pushed the envelope to its furthest extreme.

Ask most people in the real (i.e., geological) world how many friends they have and they will usually pitch relatively low numbers at you. They will say something like, "Of TRUE friends, only a few." I think we have all heard this before; and a lot of us may have also said this. I have.

But only to five thousand of my closest friends.

We want to show our values vis-à-vis friendship. We do not want to be known as people who casually (or frenetically as I have witnessed) go around adding hundreds of friends at random. We will say that our GOOD friends are people who know us well, who we trust. It therefore must be a small number in order to safeguard one's dignity.

But then walks in British anthropologist Robin Dunbar. His 1992 study, using primates who gather into groups of friends to pick lice out of each other's hair, came up with an extrapolated figure for the maximum amount of friends with whom humans can maintain a social relationship.

Dunbar's number is 148.

This means that we limited humans cannot know each member, and how each member reacts with each other, in a group greater than 148. Apparently, beyond this number the neocortex starts smoking and setting off alarm bells. My "friend" list on Facebook is just under three hundred. That means about 152 of you are not being processed.

Sorry guys.

The question, as my enquiring friend Simon posed it recently, is about the criteria we set for calling someone a friend. Have they changed? Are we generally less picky than once we were? Do we feel so much more evolved as to be able to stretch our neocortices to the point of bursting? Or is it that the term friend has become outmoded and useless, like the word "nice"? Nice, by the way, derives from the Latin word nescius, meaning ignorant, foolish, or silly.

Cynic that I usually am, I tend to think that we have just become a little heavy-handed and glib with the appellation of friend. There may be 300 people, or even 3,000, that I like or have met and with whom I have been favorably impressed, but I would be hard put to hang the label of friend around their necks. Firstly, how many of those 3,000 even remember me? Can they be MY friends if I am not theirs? Friendship is usually more of a two-way street, I fancy.

But on Facebook, we can ALL be friends! It is a merry little solipsistic utopia in which anyone whose post I have liked might instantly become my friend. Since this is absurd, I think we need an evolutionarily advanced term for this new breed of friends. Rather than calling them "friends," for example, we should say they are "People In a Network Having Expanded Anthropological Dimensions."

PINHEADs.

This much more descriptive acronym could suffice to cover the extra 152 people in my list and the 4,852 extra PINHEADs on the envelope-pusher's list.

 

 

 

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Komentari (21)

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looping looping 21:03 15.11.2011

Not fair

But on Facebook, we can ALL be friends!

Yes, and on Facebook we are all friends of secret services but they are not on our friends list!
Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 21:09 15.11.2011

Re: Not fair


looping
But on Facebook, we can ALL be friends!

Yes, and on Facebook we are all friends of secret services but they are not on our friends list!


Well said. And eerily true too.
aleks-black aleks-black 21:59 15.11.2011

...

myredneckself myredneckself 00:14 16.11.2011

Re: ...

Chris Farmer
Dunbar's number is 148...
... My "friend" list on Facebook is just under three hundred. That means about 152 of you are not being processed.


I have 151 FB friends, so I have to unfriend three of them. Hmmm...
Really, the size of my neocortex doesn't allow further processing, and not only it starts smoking, but simmering.
I'll be efficient and choose three of them who are the worst in gossiping and prevent me to gain useful informations about others (how to survive if I don't know who bought new shoes today, for instance?)
Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 21:28 17.11.2011

Re: ...

myredneckself
I'll be efficient and choose three of them who are the worst in gossiping and prevent me to gain useful informations about others (how to survive if I don't know who bought new shoes today, for instance?)

You would forgo news on new shoes? I will post this on fb right now!
Jukie Jukie 00:12 16.11.2011

Friends

As I joined FB fairly recently, I asked at my other forum (where I have some online friends from abroad I have never met in person) how are you supposed to define friends, acquantainces (sp?) and close friends on FB, and basically the answer was how relaxed you would be if you knew they read your status musings and your collection of links to websites, and how much you want to read their before-breakfast/coffee musings the first thing after you get up in the morning.

I guess it is like defining a B minus grade in school. You decide how to set some parameters and you go.
Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 14:43 16.11.2011

Re: Friends

Jukie
...how relaxed you would be if you knew they read your status musings and your collection of links to websites, and how much you want to read their before-breakfast/coffee musings the first thing after you get up in the morning.

The intimacy of breakfast with the 500,000,000...

(no thanks!)
Domazet Domazet 03:07 16.11.2011

I'm pretty sure that...

...many of Ashton Kutcher fans find that 5000 limit exceptionally cruel. On the other hand his personal assistants must be thanking the Supreme Being every single minute of their existence...
anchiba anchiba 11:53 16.11.2011

Without FB

I have to say that I don`t have FB account. And I`m proud whit that!!!
For me is not o.k. to have a friend whom I don`t know personally, whit whom I can not sit and drink a coffee and talk face to face and talking whit such friends, from FB, not to have time for real friends!

If you don`t have time for real friends, why waste time on virtual friends!!!!
Jukie Jukie 14:24 16.11.2011

Re: Without FB

anchiba
I have to say that I don`t have FB account. And I`m proud whit that!!!For me is not o.k. to have a friend whom I don`t know personally, whit whom I can not sit and drink a coffee and talk face to face and talking whit such friends, from FB, not to have time for real friends!If you don`t have time for real friends, why waste time on virtual friends!!!!

I like how they invite me to Events, even those that I would not go to (and those I would go to, if I lived at Stari Grad and could just stroll out if I felt like it), and then I know what is going on. My friends have largely abandoned mailing lists in favor of FB, so for several months before I joined FB I really missed any information - it was as if noone was out there.
Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 14:39 16.11.2011

Re: Without FB

Jukie
I like how they invite me to Events, even those that I would not go to (and those I would go to, if I lived at Stari Grad and could just stroll out if I felt like it), and then I know what is going on. My friends have largely abandoned mailing lists in favor of FB, so for several months before I joined FB I really missed any information - it was as if noone was out there.

Interesting how fb has become the main vehicle of communications for so many...
srdjan.pajic srdjan.pajic 16:11 16.11.2011

friends

It is interesting to see that people who in real life have no friends (nobody likes them, or they don't like anybody) have hundreds and thousands of friends on the Facebook. It is almost like they want to show that they are nice, popular people, while in reality, they are not. Also, guys that have no girlfriends, happen to have mostly female friends on the facebook. It is real virtual reality.
background noise background noise 21:49 16.11.2011

So

What's the point?
Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 11:21 17.11.2011

Re: So

background noise
What's the point?

The POINT:

a) F > 148 = 0
b) Friends are not "friends"
c) Dunbar had no friends of his own
d) None of the above
myrna.ipages myrna.ipages 11:52 17.11.2011

Re: So

None of the above ..

but the whole view on the matter is far from cynic..btw, do not know why are you writing on something you hate..second time on fb.. kind of obsession?


Dawngreeter Dawngreeter 15:00 17.11.2011

Re: So

background noise
What's the point?


You are stranded in a cold, uncaring universe devoid of meaning and the only point of anything you do exists only in terms of various delusions you create to give yourself solace from the fact that you will die a pointless death after living a pointless life and the world will not flinch.

Also, a zero-dimensional entity in geometry.
Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 20:58 17.11.2011

Re: So

Dawngreeter
background noise
What's the point?


You are stranded in a cold, uncaring universe devoid of meaning and the only point of anything you do exists only in terms of various delusions you create to give yourself solace from the fact that you will die a pointless death after living a pointless life and the world will not flinch.

Also, a zero-dimensional entity in geometry.


That's a bit gloomy. It is only Facebook after all. Infinitely turn-off-able...

Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 15:48 18.11.2011

Re: So

myrna.ipages
btw, do not know why are you writing on something you hate..second time on fb.. kind of obsession?


Why do you touch your toothache with your tongue?
myrna.ipages myrna.ipages 11:04 19.11.2011

Re: So

sorry, saw it just now!
pardon my French but my English is not good enough to understand your - i suppose - cynic comment(!)
on the other hand, your Serbian is not good enough - i suppose - to say it in a kind of proper way (!)

have a nice day where ever you are!
Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 15:00 19.11.2011

Re: So

myrna.ipages
sorry, saw it just now!
pardon my French but my English is not good enough to understand your - i suppose - cynic comment(!)
on the other hand, your Serbian is not good enough - i suppose - to say it in a kind of proper way (!)

have a nice day where ever you are!


To paraphrase a certain Serbian prince: I speak Serbian well. I just do not know the words.



As to my comment, I only meant that we often (and stupidly) touch and prod sore spots just to see what happens! We scratch mosquito bites; we pick at scabs; and we write endlessly about Facebook...

(I shall avoid the topic for awhile)
myrna.ipages myrna.ipages 13:02 20.11.2011

Re: So

(I shall avoid the topic for awhile)







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