HOW MANY FRIENDS DO YOU REALLY HAVE?

December 16, 2014

Eloise Derrett, IT'S THERE FOR LIFE

As the world matures, and as we develop technology further, there are various social networking tools that are being brought to our attention. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are only a few of the possibilities. I think that these ideas are genius but there are a few downfalls to them. There is a certain amount of competition involved in these networks, especially around gaining followers. You can’t deny it because why would people otherwise be requesting for ‘follow-backs’, ‘shout-outs’ and ‘like-for-likes?’

People are becoming competitive with how many followers or friends they have over social media, but once you look past the façade they have built themself out of screens, how many friends do we really have?

Dunbar’s Number

In 1992, English Anthropologist Robin Dunbar completed a study on the most number of friends somebody can have. According to him, the highest number is 148, rounded to 150 more often than not.

Dunbar began this study by examining the number of Christmas cards sent out by the English in the 90s. You see, unlike now, you would have to write and buy the card, find the address and post it to the recipient, all costing money and eventually, patience. Dunbar found that the average number sent from each household would be 150.3 cards. That means that individuals would only go into that effort for 150 people.

Another example is how the creator of GORE-TEX, W. L. Gore put a limit on how many people could work at his factories. That number was 150, because otherwise people wouldn’t really get to know their co-workers and create a successful working environment.

How does this fit with social media?

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Surprise- this research fits in perfectly with the following stats.

Did you know that the average female American twitter user has 160 followers? Also, did you know the average female American Facebook user has around 250 friends?

If you go and look through follower stats of people you know, most of them will have over one hundred or so followers. And it is extremely common to see people with over 150 friends, followers or subscribers.

If the average female American twitter user has 160 followers, it means she could easily have all of her friends and at least 10 people she wont really know too well. The more followers you have, the higher risk of having complete strangers following you and seeing what you post.

We might be sharing too much via social media as well. The point of these platforms is to connect with other people, but you don’t realise how easy it is to find information that could be used in a malicious way, by people who aren’t worthy of your association.

Posting a photo of yourself before you go out? Those Internet strangers now know that you’re going out, what you’re wearing and depending on where the pic is taken, they can even figure out where you live. I can’t say that every Internet stranger is out to harm you but for the ones that are, sometimes you’re making it easy for them.

The point of these platforms is to connect with other people, but sometimes, all you need to do is post one photo that could share information you wont want internet strangers reading.

So, next time somebody requests you on Facebook, before clicking accept, make sure that you put some thought into when the last time you spoke to them was, how well you know them, and would you really like them seeing your posts? The number of followers doesn’t matter anymore, now it’s about if you trust them and consider them your friend.

I’m not saying that everyone on the Internet poses a threat, some people are delightful, but you have to be careful anyway.

– Eloise Derrett

– Photos by Joshua Sim

 

 

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