Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Limits of Friendship - The New Yorker

Revisiting the Dubar numbers

"One concern, though, is that some social skills may not develop as effectively when so many interactions exist online. We learn how we are and aren’t supposed to act by observing others and then having opportunities to act out our observations ourselves. We aren’t born with full social awareness, and Dunbar fears that too much virtual interaction may subvert that education. “In the sandpit of life, when somebody kicks sand in your face, you can’t get out of the sandpit. You have to deal with it, learn, compromise,” he said. “On the internet, you can pull the plug and walk away. There’s no forcing mechanism that makes us have to learn.” If you spend most of your time online, you may not get enough in-person group experience to learn how to properly interact on a large scale—a fear that, some early evidence suggests, may be materializing. “It’s quite conceivable that we might end up less social in the future, which would be a disaster because we need to be more social—our world has become so large” Dunbar said. The more our virtual friends replace our face-to-face ones, in fact, the more our Dunbar number may shrink."
The Limits of Friendship - The New Yorker
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