Sunday, December 26, 2010

Facebook notwithstanding, the human condition limits the number of friends we can have

Here's another interesting example of how we humans can invent e-things that outstrip our flesh and blood capabilities ("multitasking" being another).  It's a New York Times Op-Ed by Oxford evolutionary anthropology Professor Robin Dunford, author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks.

[Social networking site] have allowed us to amass thousands of 'friends,' but they have not yet devised a way to cut through the clunky, old-fashioned nature of relationships themselves. Our circle of actual friends remains stubbornly small, limited not by technology but by human nature. . . . .

The critical component in social networking is the removal of time as a constraint. In the real world, according to research by myself and others, we devote 40 percent of our limited social time each week to the five most important people we know, who represent just 3 percent of our social world and a trivially small proportion of all the people alive today. Since the time invested in a relationship determines its quality, having more than five best friends is impossible when we interact face to face, one person at a time.

. . . .

[D]espite Facebook’s promise, that is the fundamental flaw in the logic of the social-networking revolution. The developers at Facebook overlooked one of the crucial components in the complicated business of how we create relationships: our minds.

Put simply, our minds are not designed to allow us to have more than a very limited number of people in our social world. The emotional and psychological investments that a close relationship requires are considerable, and the emotional capital we have available is limited.

You can read more here


BTW, don't I provide you, dear reader, with some interesting posts?

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