It’s been eighteen months since I did a Facebook stats update. During that time, I got up to over 500 Facebook friends. However, I then started to remove some of my Facebook friends. It was on purpose, as I was trying to stay connected with people I wanted to. I was hoping to be more intentional with the people that remained Facebook friends. And, I was curious about Dunbar’s Number.
Dunbar’s Number is a theory which says there is a max to which you can maintain stable social relationships. While you may “know” of hundreds of people, you can only maintain friendships with a smaller amount of people. There is no precise number for Dunbar’s Number, but 150 is commonly used. I was curious about this theory after reading a post by Seth Godin.
I was reducing my Facebook Friends because I wanted to focus in on people. They were people I knew in the community, they were neighbors, they were in my journey group. I cut a lot of Facebook Friends that I hadn’t communicated with in years.
Earlier in 2010, I was down to around 270 Facebook Friends. I liked it. However, the Facebook Friend requests kept rolling in to my inbox. People I didn’t know, people I hadn’t spoken to in over ten years, people that I thought didn’t like me, they all wanted to be Facebook Friends.
I began to soften on my stance of holding to Dunbar’s Number. I looked at my life, and my work, and realized it would almost be foolhardy to try and attempt to keep down my Facebook Friends. Plus, I’m creating content on a consistent basis, and I want people to experience it. If people want to stay connected with me on Facebook, then perhaps they’ll want to experience the content I create.
In six months, I doubled the amount of Facebook Friends without really trying. It’s not that I’m popular, but rather emphasizing how much people use Facebook as a means of connection and contact.
Also, as I’ve seen my role at Christ Community Church become more visible, more people want to connect with me. People want to know what I think about Jesus or other issues. This is a good thing. Even if I don’t maintain a “stable social relationship” with them, as it relates to Dunbar’s Number, I can still influence them.
I much prefer Twitter, but 500 million people are on Facebook. It’s where people are at. Facebook is a better database, rolodex, directory and black book than the originals.
That being said, here are the latest stats with my 529 Facebook Friends. These numbers track the Facebook Friends I have talked to verbally.
Past month – 94 (17.8%)
1-6 months – 82 (15.5%)
6-12 months – 53 (10%)
12-24 months – 46 (8.7%)
2-5 years – 36 (6.8%)
5-10 years – 21 (4%)
10-15 years – 22 (4.2%)
15+ years – 52 (9.8%)
Never talked to – 122 (23%)
Here’s the comparison to the 2009 stats. First I have the percentage change, and then in parenthesis I have the 2009 percent to the 2010 percent.
I think there are a lot of good points to be gleaned from Dunbar’s Number theory, but for where I’m at in life and work it isn’t something I can practice through social media connections. Nor would I want to at the moment.
I should add, if you want to be Facebook Friends just let me know!