10/19-Can the internet buy you more friends-Julia Duchossois

In his TED talk, Robin Dunbar argues that the internet can not “buy” you more friends due to to a cognitive limit on the amount of close relationships we can have via the internet.

Dunbar supports his argument by explaining a study that analyzed types of communities, all around the size of 150 people, and asking what these communities meant to the individuals. Dunbar digs into these relationships and explains that the cognitive ability to have these relationships and manage social interactions comes from brain regions behind the eyes and ears. Dunbar also argues that the amount of time invested in a relationship determines the strength, depth and emotional connection of the relationship. Dunbar says that on average we have about 5 intimate relationships, however these relationships have the most depth and take up a lot of our time (3/4) of our social time. He also says that if we fail to invest time in our relationships, they will decay. Dunbar argues that platforms like Facebook are geared toward the way women interact, however less so for the way men interact, as men gain social closeness through doing things together.

Overall, I found Dunbar’s TED talk interesting and I appreciated the connections he made to the processes in the brain and how this affects our interactions. One thing I found particularly interesting is Dunbar’s argument that beginning a romantic relationship “costs you a friend” due to the amount of time you must invest in the relationship, ultimately taking away from your 5 relationship quota. This makes me wonder, what does this mean for long distance relationships? Does the time spent to create true social closeness also need to be physical closeness, or can the time itself being invested through phone calls or virtual interactions be enough?

4 thoughts on “10/19-Can the internet buy you more friends-Julia Duchossois

  1. This is very interesting – I have read similar things online about how we can only have a limited number of friends, but I had never thought about the idea of a romantic relationship “costing” you a friend. What you said about long distant relationships was very intriguing as well as that is a common topic we have discussed in class. The article I read talked about how the smaller interactions we have online do not add up to interactions we have in person – this reminded me of what you read because many online friends likely do not amount to even one in-person friend.

  2. I can attest to adding a relationship “costing you a friend” since I have experienced both losing friends to new relationships and being the friend lost due to someone making new friends. Both cases are unfortunate and I have never really thought about how I have a ‘quota’ of friends, but it definitely makes sense since I definitely am not close with everyone that I was once close with.

  3. I also watched this TED talk and found his point about romantic relationships taking up more time investment very interesting. When our ability to keep close friends is already so limited, it’s interesting to see how one romantic relationship can cost up to two friendships. It’s kind of sad to think about how our friendships can be so fragile in that way when we can no longer keep up with the time investment in those friendships due to new relationships. Your point about long distance relationships is fascinating as well. Dunbar explains how face-to-face platforms like Facetime can greatly contribute to our relationships, so I wonder if it’s just enough as being together in real life. However, I’m not sure. It’d be interesting to explore that point more.

  4. Before clicking in the blog, I thought “buy you more friends” means buy the fans to interact with you. I know that on some social media, such as Instagram, some may choose to buy friends thus his or her post may receive thousands likes. People do that due to their vanity. Also, I found the idea that a romantic relationship “costs you a friend” interesting. People may fall in love and reduce the time to invest in friendship, and the reading is a way to remind us not to neglect others.

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