I've been thinking about the Communication and friendship lot lately. I am staying in town for a few weeks moving around and keeping in touch with people who left. I thought of my friend who living without regular communication with anyone outside of a small group of students during a month long Anthropology trip in Belize and how challenging that may be for her. I have had limited internet connection lately and have at times felt a bit out of the loop but whenever I do get back online I still find myself talking to the close friends despite the fact I have 287 "friends" on Facebook.
I then came across a recent article in the Economist, which stated that studies have now shown showed what most of us hopefully already know: Even with the advent of Facebook, we don't actually have more friends. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar calculated, based on the brain sizes and social networks of apes, that the size of the human brain allows stable social networks of only 150 friends. Some believed that things would be different different with online social networks but new research says that we can only really keep up with 150 people online or off. In addition, the friend count doesn't change much in terms of who we regularly communicate with, with men with 120 friends replying to 7 messages while those with 500 respond to only ten more.
I wrote before about the Dunbar number a while back and find this research to confirm the obvious that no matter what the number of online connections we have we are really only "friends" in any real since with a few of them. That's sort of why it's annoying to hear people with 1240 friends comparing numbers. Just because you have more "friends" doesn't mean you have more friends. I for one don't care. I would rather have a few really strong connections than countless weak ones.