I read this post on on Lifehacker this morning and had a really odd feeling about it. Though I understand the article and at some level acknowledge the point of pruning your ‘friendship tree’ I have a difficult time with it in principle.
Maybe it’s just me and I have have a need to feel as though I have more friends than I do, but I really like following the goings on of the posts from my social feeds even if I don’t have regular face to face contact with everyone.
I’ve been reading Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom by Matthew Fraser and Sumitra Dutta, a study on the use of social media in the enterprise. One of the comments the authors make is the predisposition of the, as they call them Gen V, is the habit of collecting friends on social sites like they were bubble gum trading cards.
Dunbar’s number theorizes the number of social connections a person can maintain at somewhere between 100 and 230 people. From my personal experience I find that to be true. However is see people in my social networks with connections of upward of 400 to 500 people.
Throwing sheep points out, and I’m inclined to believe, that the the Gen V’s are gathering for quantity and not quality. Do you really know all of those people directly or are they friends of friends?
My original point to this post is that I would encourage you to consider this, if you really take the time and are careful about adding people to your social networks, you dramatically minimize the amount of pruning that’s necessary.
I generally keep my business contacts and personal contacts in separate networks (LinkedIn and Facebook respectively).
Adding Twitter in to the mix gives me the chance to add friends and and follow others more dynamically.
In the end, I would say, make sure you are careful, trust and add friends, relationships make the human experience wonderful. But make wonderful because you HAVE the relationships, not because you collect them.