As we grow, we learn how to focus and choose right source of information, how to choose friends and how to communicate with all of them. But what is your limit? Recently, gambling online I noticed a beginning and a rapid ending of the conversation. One of the players answered to another:”Sorry, I don’t have time for any more buddies”. Indeed, internet made it so easy to find new friends and buddies, potential partners and client. But should we limit them? And what is the threshold for a friend? Is it enough to ask “how are you doing” once in a week/month? Or is it necessary to have some form of conversation? From one side Dunbar argues that the number of people with whom humans can maintain a relationship is limited to 150. Going over this number will make these connections weak. But it seems like new ways of communication and social networks are increasing Dunbar’s number. It is not a only about language anymore. For example, posting “Happy Birthday!” to profile or even just simple “like” helps maintain these connections. Therefore, number 150 is already irrelevant. So, how to beat Dunbar’s number?
Morten Hansen in his book “Collaboration” offers some solutions. In fact one of Morten’s network rules is actually “build weak ties, not strong ones.” According to author:
“But research shows that weak ties can prove much more helpful in networking, because they form bridges to worlds we do not walk within. Strong ties, on the other hand, tend to be worlds we already know; a good friends often knows many of the same people and things we know. They are not the best when it comes to searching for new jobs, ideas, experts, and knowledge. Weak ties re also good because they take less time. It’s less time consuming to talk to someone once a month (weak tie) than twice a week (a strong tie). People can keep up quite a few weak ties without them being a burden.”
Even back to 1973, Mark Granovetter explained very well in his article The Strength of Weak Ties how powerful are weak ties.
Check this great article by Richard Beck, professor and experimental psychologist at Abilene Christian University. He gives a quite clear explanation what is so strong about weak ties taking into consideration a recent article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker entitled Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted. Gladwell writes:
“The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That’s why you can have a thousand “friends” on Facebook, as you never could in real life.
This is in many ways a wonderful thing. There is strength in weak ties, as the sociologist Mark Granovetter has observed. Our acquaintances—not our friends—are our greatest source of new ideas and information. The Internet lets us exploit the power of these kinds of distant connections with marvellous efficiency. It’s terrific at the diffusion of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, seamlessly matching up buyers and sellers, and the logistical functions of the dating world. But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.”
I suppose, almost everybody who is reading this post has much more than 150 facebook friends. So, how you handle all of them? Do you have certain rules, such as “checkin – make sure to message this person once a month to check in” or “connector – people who are at the core of lots of deals” like Chris Brogan? Or you keep your facebook page for close friends (a circle of 150) and use other networks for weak ties?