Dunbar on Facebook

You’ve read my previous posts on Dunbar‘s Number, right?

Go on…. I’ll wait.

Remember the one on Scoble and Facebook? Good. For a while, I fastidiously ensured my number of friends stayed below 150 because I took the idea of Dunbar’s number as a life strategy. Then I let it slip to 200 which I pared back down to 150. My laziness let it hit 500.

It appears Robin Dunbar is now studying Facebook users to see ‘if the “Facebook effect” has stretched the size of social groupings.’ He says despite the large number of friends people only interact with about 150 of them. Maybe like most of psychology, the subjects are college students who supposedly are almost all on Facebook. In the real world, most of the people with which I have regular interaction, exactly those Dunbar’s number covers, are not my Facebook friends.

My Facebook friends instead are my information buffet. Social networks are how we keep in touch with what is happening in the world. My information technology friends provide me what is happening in my career field. My photography friends provide me with useful tips for a big hobby. Also, the bigger our social network, the more opportunities for help from or being consequential strangers. Social networks are a strategy not a replication of the brain.

The term “friends” used by Facebook, I think, is a brilliant marketing ploy. People would much rather show up as my friend than my contact.
🙂

Cognitive Load

My parents taught me as a child lying is harder than telling the truth. I am way too lazy to bother with anything other than using a tangent to change the subject. Simplicity also helps keep track of my life. I like understanding what is happening and why.

Skills involved in deception also teach problem-solving, project management, and social context management. My favorite friends were the brilliant liars. They always had a new entertaining story.

For a host of reasons, their theory goes, lying is more mentally taxing than telling the truth. Performing an extra task while lying or telling the truth should therefore affect the liars more. The Load of Lying: Testing for Truth

As evidenced by Dunbar’s Number, our brains are wired for both determining honesty in others and being the cheat.

Why One Should Not Connect With Egoists on Social Networks

“Second, if you add me as a friend I assume you want me to send you emails and interact with you.” — Plaxo: the social monster? – Scobleizer

Robert is the geek equivalent of Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears or Lindsey Lohan: A sad trainwreck we all thank a higher being that its not us. People don’t care what he has to say or endorse. They just want appear “cool” to their other geek friends. Because he does not know us, we don’t expect him to actually contact us.

The further a number of connections rises above 150 (Dunbar’s number), the more people listed who are not really a friend. At 5,000, he would require unheard of levels of emotional intelligence (I just don’t see it) to know them all well. Therefore, its clear the connections from Scoble’s perspective is to market to them (aka spam).