A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Tag Archives: Foursquare

Listening to the radio yesterday I heard a piece about an Oxford University Professor who has found that, despite the emergence of social networking sites such as Facebook, human brains are still only capable of managing a maximum of 150 friendships.

Albeit for me to contradict a professor, but I have to say I was initially sceptical.  The dawn of social networking, and more specifically Facebook, has certainly increased the number of ‘friendships’ that I can manage ten-fold, at least.  I often comment on peoples’ statuses or wish people happy birthday to those that  I would not text, call, write to, meet in person…

However, the story intrigued me.  So upon my return home I commenced an evening in front of the telly to conduct the great ‘Facebook cull’.  Aiming to reduce my 250 friends (which I think that is quite tame actually…) to the more ‘manageable’ 150 was actively encouraged by my fellow Facebookers with chirps of ‘I’m on 178 and think it’s too much!’ and ‘I culled 80 the other day’.  So, newly inspired, I flexed my fore-finger over the delete button and in an instant became ruthless.

Using Professor Dunbar’s rule of removing those I do not have contact with at least once a year my 250 ‘friends’ has now dwindled to ‘177’ more manageable contacts.  But I am not sure it feels more manageable.  I now have an impending sense of doom that I might run into some of my Facebook casulties down the pub and find myself in an awkward situation when the subject of their ruthless deletion from my Facebook circle rears its ugly head.  I do not say this out of blind panic – it has happened to my friends before following their very own culling sessions.

If this is the case perhaps ‘friends’ is not the right term.  Social networking has allowed me to keep up with many more ‘acquaintances’ than I would have had the time or inclincation to maintain contact with in Facebooks absence.  On this occasion I am going to have to disagree with the Professor and suggest that perhaps if he revisits his study ten years down the line, he might find that our circles have widened beyond the 150 mark, of acquitances if not friends.  Location-based social networking sites search as Foursquare will most certainly have a role to play in this, but that’s another story…

Meanwhile, I am going to promptly scramble out into the Facebook sphere and beg forgiveness from deletees….it was all in the name of research, honest?!



%d bloggers like this: