Got friends? Any lone soul roving around the web will have on average about 120 Facebook friends and 100 instant messaging buddies. That’s right, a whooping 100 companions for everyone! Wow, have we as a society evolved into one big community of social butterflies? Well, not sure about that. According to tech anthropologist Stefana Broadbent, of all our online contacts, we actually talk to about four to six people on a regular basis on Facebook and chat with about four at the most via instant messaging. This data is not too far off from our use of cellphones and voice calls as 80 percent of our calls are made to four people. And for Skype, it’s down to two people.
Yup, all that buzz and deployment of technology for about four people.
I think this is at the least reassuring: after all, plethora of internet social media tools has not undermined our fundamental relational need for quality over quantity. For whatever purpose such tools have been brought to us, we have employed these to strengthen our private spheres and reinforce our need to stay connected in our most intimate relationships.
Has Facebook or other websites helped you feel closer to your family/buddies/boyfriend/girlfriend/dog? Watch this TED talk for examples of how the internet has enabled intimacy in people’s lives from all over the world.