Studies suggest that our brains can only really keep track of about 150 people, in terms of associating a name with a face as well as unique characteristics of personality.
I’ve heard that before, and thought, “Pshaw, that can’t be true. I have a few hundred Facebook friends, and I know them all.” But really thinking about it, I wonder if I’m just denying an important truth. I’ve thought a bit about the fact that we now exist as two individuals: an analog self and a digital self. In some ways, I find this problematic as our selves become more and more estranged from each other, but there’s another problem here, too.
How many of our Facebook friends do we actually know as analog selves? And I don’t just mean “know them,” like met them before, or even to the point of feeling comfortable with carrying on a short conversation if we bumped into them…but really know.
And if we don’t know many of them…are we simply objectifying them if we only know their digital selves? Is that in some sense perverse?
I’m not saying we ought to dump Facebook forever. I’m still a Facebook stalker, and I really do think the power of social media like this can be harnessed well, to promote greater goods and even just keep people in touch. But I’m wondering if I don’t need to do a massive purge in my Facebook friend list. Thoughts?