Share & Connect
In our age, the difference between real and virtual life is often blurred — but while technology does not replace what makes us human beings; when we use it, it tend to add value to our sense of self-being. Professor Robert Dunbar of Oxford University spoke about a predefined number of 150; this is the average number designed for human beings’ capacity of close friends.
Whether you know it or not, 150 is the number of friends we can actually call friends and it is a number which is dependent on our neocortical area. 150 are those with whom we are not just saying hello or sharing jobs, but those of whom we can ask for help or share deep details of our lives. They are the ones we can distribute time and energy to, without handling it as a burden or a cost of opportunity.
Those 150 people are the average the human brain can manage. The number can vary between 100 and 230, and only the extent of our brain capacity or of our available time would let us deal with more friends, as Robert Dunbar delicately describes in interviews and in his writings. The number is not equivalent to our Facebook friends though.
Professor Dunbar explains that a human touch, a real one, is worth a thousand words and until technology can simulate virtual touch, we still have to put a line between Facebook friends and ‘real’ friends. Facebook statistics shows that the average number of friends for the average Facebook user is 130.
It seems that, although many of us live in a virtual world for more than half of our daily lives, we seem to remain in touch with reality, or maybe our brain obliges us to. We might declare 500 virtual friends because we work ourselves into a world where we are obliged to keep track with hundreds of people, but our real life is limited to the 150 number in practice.
Technology and the social networks are only tools that extend our capability to work beyond the limit. Our brain and cognitive capacity is adapted to and confirmed by the 150 number — even while we become addicted to globalization through technology. The development makes us more intelligent and more evolved as human beings.
We have to manage our time according to the technological progress, and meanwhile, we have to shape our relationships in the same pace. Life is defined by numbers. Dunbar, as well as Fibonacci, puts our lives in numbers. Instinctively we feel these numbers; our brain is limited to them, even though sometimes technology, globalization and life by itself show us that limits and numbers can be recreated.
In this way, technology brings added value to what human capacity cannot handle at this point.