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A Whole Lotta Facebook

February 9, 2012

Two big questions posed today:

1. Readwriteweb asks: “Do you have too many Facebook friends?” Then they answer their own question. Their answer? “It’s true: you have too many Facebook ‘friends'”

Why is this a surprise? The anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggested some years ago a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom we can maintain stable social relationships (this is the so-called “Dunbar’s Number”). More obviously, it’s time-consuming and mentally taxing to try and keep in touch with everyone within our social network. As that network expands, it takes near Herculean effort to maintain a social connection with each individual within the network.

You have 0 friends.

I don’t mean to suggest that you shouldn’t friend someone on Facebook. Go ahead and friend whoever you like, but remember that it comes at a cost; you will be more and more disconnected from the information Facebook can present to you about the people you care about most.

This quote seems about right: “I was going through tons of posts from people I didn’t know, and I don’t want to say that I didn’t care about them but I didn’t care to know the details of their lives,” she says. “But the thing that got me a couple of weeks ago is that I missed two important party invitations.” They had gotten lost in the flood of meaningless Facebook marketing ‘events’ that were actually just invitations to ‘participate’ in various non-important mass events.”

There is still hope. If you want to use Facebook to connect with people around the world, perhaps your best bet is to become active in a group or fan page. This kind of group-specific communication still allows you to keep your circle of friends small, while also permitting you to interact with people around the world.

2. SHOCKER: The vast majority of Facebook users don’t like Timeline.

This is how people feel, apparently.


People apparently don’t like Timeline. Should this surprise us? Facebook users have viciously protested every change to the social networking site since its inception. When Zuckerberg first wanted to open the website up to high school students, college student users were outraged. When Zuckerberg wanted to open Facebook up to everyone, users protested. And on and on. But people kept right on using Facebook.Why would these behavioral patterns change now?

People don’t like change. This has been a consistent meme on this blog. Once again, we find out just how true this axiom is. And yet, people have adapted to each and every change that Facebook has made. Timeline is not an exception. Facebook likes it for various reasons, not least because it permits easier app integration. If Timeline can make Facebook more profitable, Facebook will keep Timeline. And if Facebook keeps Timeline, you’re just going to have to get used to it. And you will.

AXIOM #3: People don’t like change, but if your product is valuable enough, your customer will adapt.

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