Anyone ever heard of Dunbar's Number?
If not, you can learn more about it by clicking this blue thing - but to sum it up, it's a theory that was presented by Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist (took many a course in that for my psych degree). So what's the theory? It's the average maximum limit of people that one person can maintain stable social relationships with, which averages to about 150 people. Some can maintain more. Others can't.
Some of you might be thinking, wait ... I have WAY more friends than that following my blog/facebook/twitter/etc. Yep. Me too, but it's not the number of friends/followers that's in question here - it's the maintaining of a relationship, more than an acquaintance. At the time this theory was presented, social media wasn't on the scene like it is now, so Mr. Dunbar was mostly talking about real-life interaction.
Does this number apply to social media, then? One guy didn't think so, but he ended up proving the theory was right. Is this to say that you or I don't care about our friends/followers? Of course not. It just means that our ability to keep an active friendship/relationship going is difficult and, depending on our follower count, impossible.
Why am I bringing this up? To be honest, I think social theories are interesting and I wanted to share this one, but mostly, thanks to an extremely busy week, I wasn't able to make my usual rounds to all my favorite blogs. Not because I didn't want to, but that's how it goes sometimes. So while I sit here, scrambling for something wise and advice-worthy to say, I was reminded of that theory and told myself, you know, it's okay. You're doing your best. You're not trying to alienate anyone. Blog when you can. Comment when you can.
And this is where I get into the meat of this post. Often I see (and I know I've done this before) writers take a leave of absence, apologize for not posting/commenting, or otherwise feel they have abandoned their base (and I'll tell you now, if you're thinking this, your heart's in the right place compared to those who only appreciate their base for buying their books). While it's normal to feel this way, rest assured, we understand. Don't be afraid. Don't feel guilty. We have lives to run and carbon footprints to make.We might forget each other for a while and then reacquaint like long lost buds. And if we think someone we admire isn't paying attention to us (and think it would be best to unfollow them), give them a nudge. In this business, we're best when connected. The more relationships we strive to maintain, the better.
There are always opportunities to reconnect with each other, like this amazing new blogfest happening next month, hosted by the master of social media/social relationship maintaining Alex J. Cavanaugh and our fellow writerly ninjas Andrew Leon and Matthew MacNish ...
There's going to be a lot of bloggerly love happening that day ...
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Keep in mind that maintaining 150 relationships is an average and humans have proven time and again that capacity can always be expanded, but the moral of the story is to be the best person you can be, do your best, and never put anyone down for any reason. Karma's watch'n!
What do you think of this number of ol' Dunbar's? Does it apply to you? Can you disprove it? Or not? Want to join the blogfest?
I'm David, and remember, someone always has it worse than us ...