Friends – what do they mean?
Think about your friends
I realized one of the points I totally neglected in the post we published last week (“Simplify your life” ) – was “friends.”
What do you really “do” with those friends?
Do you accumulate social networking cred?
Build a real relationship? Develop trust? Fill a void? Or just compete? Brag and boost ego? Manipulate?
Those are important questions when it comes to friends in Hoboken.
Are we far exceeding “Dunbar’s Number?”
Modern Scientists have suggested that there is a theoretical limit as to how many “stable relationships” we can have with other people.
Anthropologist Robin Dunbar determined that human brains have a cognitive limit of around 150 people whom we could effectively be friends with. And this limit could be traced back thousands of years. This was coined “Dunbar’s Number.”
Don’t you think something is off when you “communicate” with many hundreds – sometimes even thousands of people via social media?
Listen to the story NPR did about this a few years ago:
Is Social Media diminishing the value of “friends?”
Some may argue that with the cutting-edge communication “tools” humans now have at their disposal – perhaps that number is antiquated. And that people can easily maintain an exponentially higher number of social contacts. Sure, it may appear that way on paper – but at what cost?
Does maintaining significantly more “micro relationships” count as friends? Does it take away from strength of what was considered a solid relationship? How does it impact what used to be close relationships with family (when everyone looks at their phones at the dinner table)?
And maybe this rather new phenomenon hasn’t reared it’s ugly head yet. Because it’s a two-headed monster.
While a majority of heavy social media addicts probably haven’t realized the diminishing “friend quality” on their own yet – you can see another problem arise when their “fix” of constant contact is disrupted when the network breaks down (say after Hurricane Sandy): Panic & anxiety.
So lesser-quality friends, and more of them, and you can’t live without them. Sounds like a crappy and unsustainable situation to be in. Like being hooked on cheap, addictive, readily-available packaged food with no nutritional value.
We’re not saying friends are bad – but something has definitely changed in the last 15-20 years. Best bet in our opinion to save yourself before it’s too late – is to prune your list down, drastically cut your “impersonal” interactions – and build strong relationships the old-fashioned way. But your results may vary. Good luck!