Wherein I attempt to maintain my own ‘social network’
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In the spring of 2021, I finally got myself off of Facebook.
By then I’d said way too many times that I felt about Facebook the way I felt about Scotch and vodka before I quit drinking.
And, much like Scotch and vodka, I really don’t miss it.
What I do miss is the occasional interaction with people I actually want to stay in touch with.
When I deactivated my Facebook account, I had something on the order of 2,500 ‘friends’. But I have no idea who most of those people are (were).
In the 1990s, the British anthropologist Robin Dunbar determined that “there is a limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.” Dunbar postulated that number is on the order of 150 people (the notion was cited in this recent article in the NYTimes).
In the first weeks of 2022, I went through my address book, purging names I didn’t recognize and making a note of those who, for one reason or another, I felt like I’d want to stay in touch with.
I came up with ~120 names. Dunbar must have been on to something.
With Facebook, I operated under the illusion that I had hundreds of dozens of ‘virtual friends’.
In Real Life, it’s more like ten dozen – and I’m surprised when people say “wow, that’s a lot!”
For the past 10 years or so, I have maintained an email list from which I sent a “Weekly Digest” of things I’d posted to my blog, CohesionArts.com. This year, I have started re-branding that site. It is now ‘IncorrigibleArts.com” – I’ll go into the why of that another time.
A couple of months into the pandemic in 2020, I got myself a kitten, named her ‘Buster’ and started putting photos of her on Facebook. ‘The Daily Buster’ was probably the most popular thing I did the whole time I was on the site. I haven’t been taking as many pictures of Buster as I did in that first year, but often when I want to send a text to somebody I haven’t talked to in while, I’ll find one of those photos and send it with a message that says “Buster Says Hey!” Great hilarity – and often actual phone conversations or meetings! – subsequently ensue.
Accordingly, in honor of the old ‘Daily Busters’ I’m re-formulating the old ‘Weekly Digest’ as the new, occasional, ‘Buster Sez Hey’ email blast, and I’m inviting my ‘Dunbar Group’ to subscribe.