Sunday, August 5, 2018

Friends and so-called friends on Facebook

Photo courtesy: BBC
In many nations, including India, today (the first Sunday of August) is celebrated as Friendship Day, though the United Nations General Assembly has dedicated every July 30 for celebration of goodwill and affection among people. Not quite sure why different nations celebrate the same day on different dates.

I got a few Happy Friendship Day greetings today. But I saw plenty of them, quite strangely, floating around on social media.

Whenever I think about the word "friends", I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg spoiled that word. Imagine, people having hundreds of friends!

WHO IS A FRIEND? 

I don't know if there is an exact or true definition of it. But I guess, a friend is someone with whom we don't have any inhibitions in sharing something that is personal; with whom we would open up and show them our personal albums; whom we readily trust; and with whom we have a healthy give-and-take relationship of wise counsel and support.

Can we actually have hundreds of such people as friends? I really don't think so.

According to a Pew Research study in 2014, an average Facebook user has 338 friends. But are they really 'friends'?

DUNBAR NUMBER

Well-known British anthropologist Robin Dunbar made a correlation between the size of our brain and the size of our social group. He then came up with what is called the Dunbar Number which is 150. That is the maximum number of people we can have in our social circle. Our brain simply doesn't allow us to have more than that.

Dunbar also said that these 150 fall in four layers or circles. It is called the Dunbar Layers. At any point of time, the innermost or intimate circle of friends has just five people. The next circle has 10 more; the next another 35; and the last layer of a person's social group has another 100 - altogether making up the total of 150.

SO-CALLED FRIENDS

Since Zuckerberg is counting everyone in my Facebook contacts as 'friends', I have created a separate List, called Close Friends, in which there are just about 50, who form my friendly social group. Any personal posts are shared only with them. The rest are all acquaintances, colleagues, schoolmates, professional contacts etc.

Sometimes, when I look through my contacts (so-called friends) on Facebook, I find some whom I can barely recollect, who they are, or where I met them. I check the so-called mutual friends. And if I am still clueless, I remove them from my list.

I guess, Robin Dunbar is right. What do you think?

14 comments:

  1. Hi Pradeep - I think I agree ... I'm hardly on FB ... but do wonder why people spend so much time there, and how they have time to put up what they post up ... and what they're trying to achieve ... and I've met lots of blogging friends some in real life, but some I feel I could be in their area and we'd get on. I do enjoy seeing blogging friends with their original posts. Thankfully I don't have many and don't worry too much ... take care and cheers Hilary

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    1. Hello Hilary,
      Thank you for your sharing your thoughts.
      Even I don't spend much time on FB.
      I think blogging is a far better platform to connect with people, because you are connecting over common subjects and ideas, unlike Facebook where most of the connections are based on superficial things.

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  2. There are no permanent friends.Friendships are made at schools, play grounds, colleges, offices and around home.As time elapses and we move to new places, friendships get weakened unless there is some common binding factor. Even many blogger friends fade away and new ones enter.Nevertheless friendships are fine as long as they last.

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    1. Thank you, KP, for those insights. You have put it all in very good perspective. You are right, unless there is a binding factor friendships fade away.

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  3. 338? Wow. I have like 40 "friends" on Facebook. And I've muted most of them. I like how you have yours organized. Something I'd consider if it was more of an issue for me.

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  4. I'm not on Facebook, but I do have several thousand followers on Twitter. In truth, I only regularly interact with a few of them. That whole bit about the different circles seems spot on.

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  5. I am not on Facebook. I have heard some people have more than 2000 on their friends list in FB. Looks like younger people send friend request to unknown people (of opposite sex) and they are added immediately. I am told.

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    1. Yes, Rajan. Sending friend requests on FB to strangers is common, I too have heard.

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  6. Online or offline, park bench or facebook, people will be people. And it's generally a mixed bag.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Yes, Rajesh, I too believe that online and offline worlds are more or less the same. Only the medium is different.

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  7. I do think your opinion is more practical. We cannot have so many friends, but can have acquaintances, contacts etc. As far as females are considered, they don't attach much importance to friendship. Um, their friends are mostly their spouses' friends and family. I am seldom a frequenter in FB, or nil I can say.Anyway a useful write-up.

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    1. Yes, Rudra; it's acquaintances who are most often mistaken as friends.

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