Newspaper or Facebook on a Sunday morning?
Facebook is an amazing creation, according to Ipsos MMI´s figure for Q3 2016, 81,5% of the population (3 294 000) living in Norway have a FB account. I had a FB account 6 years ago, an inactive one with no profile picture, no background information, and not a singe post had been published during the short period I possessed this account. I got 7 friends in total, 5 of them were my close relatives so they should not be considered as my friends. But at least, I got 2 friends who actually sent me the friend requests, and of course I accepted them and then I became part of the thrill. In addition to being a slow adapter of new technology, I was critical of most of the online social media at that time. How is it possible for people to have hundreds of friends on Facebook, why are people willing to share their private lives with such a huge number of online friends, I remember I wondered. It did not cross my mind that I was perhaps the peculiar one, an outsider.
Having no knowledge of how Facebook worked, I never gave any “likes” to the posts published by my 5 relatives and 2 friends, not even when one of my friends published a picture of his lovely newborn baby and announced that he had become a father. There was a couple of reasons for this ignorance. Firstly, I rarely spent time checking my FB account as I thought I had more reasonable things to deal with, so I must have seen his affectionate note far too late. Secondly, when I eventually discovered this post, I was not aware that I was supposed to like it as I never noticed that there was actually a small icon named “like” placed at the bottom of every single post.
The other friend was an active user, I frequently received notifications reminding me that some new posts had been published. At that time I had learnt that I could comment on a post, and I commented every time I received a reminder to show my affection. As I only got 2 friends, I could not risk missing either of them. One day, to my huge surprise, I noticed that the number of my friends had reduced from 7 to 6. Identifying the one who had unfriended me was not too complicated. I was a bit hurt but on reflection, I realised that I was the one to blame. Nobody would like their posts being commented constantly by someone who kept a mysterious image with no profile picture and background information. (Sorry for being so careless if you’re reading the post 🙂 )My curiosity about Facebook came to an end, and I deactivated the account.
Having lived a life without influence of Facebook for almost 6 years, I created a new FB account in September last year. While most FB users already have an impressive list of friends, I started with this amazing friend hunting project from scratch. Three months later, the number of friends stopped at 49. Not that impressive compared to those who have hundreds or even thousands of friends on their lists.
Being a little curious, I searched for “hundreds of Facebook friends”, and not surprisingly, quite a few hits turned up.
With the headline “ Facebook users with hundreds of online friends only have a handful of TURE friends”, the article from dailymail.co.uk dated 27 Feb 2016 immediately caught my attention. A study undertaken by Facebook revealed that men and women who list 120 online friends only keep in touch with 4 and 6 of them respectively. The others, such as friends met at parties, will remain acquaintances. For those who have networks of more than 500 pals, men tend to communicate regularly with 10, while for women the figure is 16. As stated by the Economist, “Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently, but they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever”. Putting too much focus on Facebook could also lead to undesirable consequences, neuroscientist Susan Greenfield claimed that social networking media were causing alarming changes in the brains of young users as these sites are shortening attention spans, encouraging instant gratification, and making young people more self-centred.
An article published in independent.co.uk 22 January 2016 suggested some similar patterns. Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University undertook a study to find out the connection between whether people have lots of FB friends and real friends. The finding showed that there was very little correlation between having friends on social networks and actually being able to depend on them, or even talking to them on a regular basis.
The research concluded that the figures are similar to how friendships work in real life. “There is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome. The real (as opposed to casual) relationships require at least occasional face-to-face interaction to maintain them”. (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-friends-are-almost-entirely-fake-study-finds-a6826721.html)
In today´s fast-paced word, Facebook provides the great opportunity to get connected with people, but the pleasure of having a good talk with a close friend is immeasurable. What is more powerful than the meeting of two hearts?