Got ego? Trying to garner Facebook friends infinitum? Well you can’t!
According to Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford University, the Facebook yardstick that your brain can only handle is 150 friends.
Okay, so you have hundreds, maybe even thousands of Facebook friends. But guess what? All but 150 are meaningless, as far as true friendships are concerned.
When Dunbar reviewed the various traffic patterns with regards to Facebook accounts, even if someone has say, 1,500 friends, he observed, that people typically only maintained active communication with an inner circle of around 150.
Professor Dunbar is best known for his theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. He surmises that Facebook does not help the brain expand its capacity to care about more people. The researcher defines meaningful relationships as those, whom you not only keep in contact with for at least once a year and but try to relate to other folks in your life.
With regards to those folks who have an inordinate number of Facebook buddies, Professor Dunbar does state, that there are some neurological mechanisms in place to help with their ever-expanding friends list. He says, that we all have the ability to facially recognize at least 1,500 faces but again, the relationships tend to be very superficial and lack reciprocity
The family dynamic also differs greatly from the friends relationship that is formed on Facebook. The professor maintains that if you don’t see a friend, your interest in them may tend to wane, whereas familial ties are a constant, or stable.
“No matter how far away you go, they love you when you come back,” he told the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Just in case you’re interested, Professor Dunbar has 66 people on Facebook who like his page.
Have social networks allowed us to just build networks of weak ties. But are these relationships truly irrelevant?