I've long written on this blog along these lines: we evolved to account for the values and actions of about 30 other individuals. The corollary: at that level, each individual has a real potential to influence the collective action of the entire group, should it be important enough to undertake.
And the general social corollary is that this does not scale to 230 Facebook friends, a half million citizens in your "tight knit" community, 300 million Americans...or, what, 7 billion Earth inhabitants? ...Hunter-gatherers might not scoff outright at the idea of voting, per se. But I'm pretty sure they'd scoff at it being secret and anonymous (no personal accountability), but then they're bound to it.
...I had pretty much come to hate Facebook. Many do anyway, but usually for different reasons than I. That runs the gamut from the envy over Zuckerberg's smashing billionaire success—to now gloating over the not-so-pretty public stock offering—to the constant hand wringing over privacy issues (that's the price you pay if you want free), to silly butthurt complaints about how their free service is configured, and the changes they make when they want to make them.
I signed up for Facebook way back when it went from college students only, to public. The strategy and timing of that, the elements involved in it, really ought to make a pretty interesting business book, I'd think. ...I signed up, did nothing with it for well over a year, began hearing the buzz, and started using it. It's a love/hate thing, as I suppose most good relationships are—because at least it's passion, heads or tales, and not indifference—which really, really sucks.
I don't think I ever acquired over 100 friends, and since FB is mutual, unlike Google+, that seemed reasonable. I have an FB page for this blog with almost 3,500 "fans," and a Twitter feed, with almost 5,000 followers. But in spite of stating on my About Page and elsewhere, that my personal FB is only for friends and family I know in realspace, I still get a number of friend requests per week I have to ignore. I used to take the time to send a "sorry" message—directing folks to the FTA Page instead—but I just don't have the time or desire anymore. Sorry.
...So, let's get to the thinking part, eh? Does anyone really have 100 friends? I mean, true friends in at least some very important context; that is, people with whom you keep up on all important details and events of their lives, attend every function you can, and they yours; or, perhaps someone with whom you might have some extraordinary, unique affinity that will always be present? How about 230? 450, 500 and on up, as I see on many FB profiles?
Or do you cheap and fake out? Do you accept their friend requests, then hide all their posts—rendering the whole thing a white-scam that diminishes you? What happens when they ask you in a phone conversation, an in-person meeting, an email, or even a personal FB message what you think of their FB contributions, or this post or that post? Or, will that never happen anyway—and, I've made my point?
For far too long I've put up with stuff on Facebook that was of no interest to me. I won't bore you with the details. Everyone who's ever been on it on it knows what I mean. Essentially, we need a concise word for UltraBanal. And, I suppose that would go for me, too, in the eyes of some...which is fine—this is a two-way deal. After all, it comes to a point where, other than some nebulous mutual acquaintance, friend of a friend, a family member or "friend" you wouldn't otherwise see inside of 20-year spaces—or whatever—it's just not at all prescient. It's irrelevant. Which means: it really doesn't mean much of anything to you. Not...really.
So what do you do? You scroll through...scroll, scroll, scroll...and you're looking for rare nuggets. Well, how about stop digging for gold and think about what you're trying to do?
Where do you find them, those nuggets? ...How about you do a little data analysis? What if you recorded each time you click "Like," or you comment, or you post on someone's wall, etc? See how many people that is, and who they are. As a secondary experiment, record which people click "Like" on yours posts, comment, post on your wall, etc. Compare the two lists. Wanna guess how it might come out in terms of correspondence?
For me, since I already had only about 100 FB friends, I kinda winged it and just began the culling operation. I cut my friends list down to 29. This morning when I got up, I went to Facebook, and I had an epiphany. I kinda loved it. I had a great time, really. Virtually every post was something of interest to me. It was easy to click on the "Like" a few times, drop a few comments—all in the worthwhile endeavor of supporting and celebrating those closest to me,—friends and family. ...Real friends, family that are as good as friends—because you choose your friends, not your family.
Anyone else want to give it a shot or, if you've stayed away from FB for whatever reason, give it a try under that basis: 30-50 friends, and not a single friend more? See how it goes?
As a final aspect to consider, isn't it odd that human beings have socially developed such complex ways to place friends and family into hierarchies over millennia? Well, no, it isn't odd at all. It's a function or response to how we evolved as social beings to begin with. We simply aren't adapted to the notion or practicality of keeping up with the waxes and wanes of hundreds of other individuals with separate lives, and you know what? I think that's perfect.
Why? Because no matter what, there will still only be 24 hours in any given day.