(Not) Done with Dunbar’s Number
Yet again, Dunbar’s Number is popping up. Professor Robin Dunbar first stated in the 90s that the maximum number of relationships our tiny human brains can handle is 150.
A Sunday article in the Times of London has brought this up anew, thanks to the good Professor himself. The context, specifically, is social networks, and the articles popping up seem to warn us that having, say, 800 Facebook friends will melt your brain (yes, I exaggerate- maybe).
People who jump on this bandwagon, I say, are missing the point of how social networks work. Anyone who thinks I can talk to 1,000 people meaningfully all the time is insane (and certainly thinks I am). It’s the groups within groups- my “baby Dunbars”- that make scaling possible. Yes, that’s cheating, but I am getting around to further explanation soon.
You know what I can’t handle? The number of times Dunbar’s number keeps coming up in terms of social networks. That’s what makes my brain explode. I will be writing more on this.
What are your thoughts on the subject?