Facebook

dunbar_circles-300x206Facebook – a sociologist’s dream come true.

If you are not on it yet, you are really missing out.

Value?

Just this past week a friend of mine connected with her son at a critical time in his life on Facebook.  She tells me that he would have never opened up face to face or on the phone the way he did on Facebook.

My teen girls give me a hard time – say that my friend count is not “real friends” – I think they are just jealous 😉

How many friends are too many? Check this out from Facebook’s in-house sociologist:

The famous Dunbar number, or “theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships”, is generally accepted to be about 150. However, in a recent interview with The Economist, Cameron Marlow, a research scientist at Facebook, shared some interesting stats on Facebook users’ social behavior patterns.

His findings: while many people have hundreds friends on Facebook, they still only actively communicate with a small few. Or to quote the author of the article, “Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently. But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever.”

Here’s the data from Marlow:

The average male Facebook user with 120 friends:

  • Leaves comments on 7 friends’ photos, status updates, or wall
  • Messages or chats with 4 friends

The average female Facebook user with 120 friends:

  • Leaves comments on 10 friends’ photos, status updates, or wall
  • Messages or chats with 6 friends

The average male Facebook user with 500 friends:

  • Leaves comments on 17 friends’ photos, status updates, or wall
  • Messages or chats with 10 friends

The average female Facebook user with 500 friends:

  • Leaves comments on 26 friends’ photos, status updates, or wall
  • Messages or chats with 16 friends

In other words, Facebook users comment on stuff from only about 5-10% of their Facebook friends. And as has been shown by many other studies, women communicate with more people in all cases than men.

“People who are members of online social networks are not so much ‘networking’ as they are ‘broadcasting their lives to an outer tier of acquaintances who aren’t necessarily inside the Dunbar circle,’” Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, says.

It’s all about connection.  Social media is here to stay.  If advancing the Kingdom of God is what you live for, its time that you embrace tools like Facebook and Twitter.

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One response to this post.

  1. GREAT post, Roy. Now that I’ve been more active on FB, I can see the correlation between this study and my own budding habits.

    There are a couple of questions though.

    1) As Christians, how do we cut through the clutter that can occur on FB and broadcast our faith as individuals?

    2) How does the Church leverage FB to reach the unchurched?

    3) As a corollary to # 2, what percentage of our friends on FB are unchurched or non-Christians? Attempting to leverage FB to reach the unchurched when the majority of our friends are Christian could mean that we’re living in an online Christian FB bubble, which isn’t good either.

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