If you are not familiar with Dunbar’s Number, let me explain it before we get going here.
Dunbar’s Number, also referred to as the Cortex Ratio, is the brainchild concept coined by Robin Dunbar in 1992. Dunbar is currently the professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. He claims that human’s brains are only capable of managing a network of 150 people.
This does not mean people you know (obviously most of us come in contact/meet way more than 150 people throughout a lifetime) but the people you maintain genuine relationships with on a regular basis.
By studying the social formation and group cohesion of primates, Dunbar determined that the neocortex, the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language, could only manage a social circle of 148.7, or in whole person numbers, 150 friends.
Enter: Social Media
More recently, Dunbar’s Number has come under criticism from some who believe that social media and networking online makes Dunbar’s Number irrelevant.
Multiple works, including Collaboration by Morten Hansen, discuss the fact that weak relationships are not only important but necessary, because those weak relationships are what enable us to extend our current circles, and because we can keep more than 150 ‘weak’ ties very easily.
“Strong ties…tend to be worlds we already know; a good friend often knows many of the same people and things we know…Weak ties are also good because they take less time. It’s less time consuming to talk to someone once a month (weak ties) than twice per week (strong ties). People can keep up quite a few weak ties without them being a burden.”
To a certain extent, I agree here – social media does allow us to maintain a huge number of weak ties, like how Facebook announces birthdays and anniversaries, and you can follow what your friends are doing by looking at their Twitter or Facebook posts, without actually having to speak to them.
Honestly, for some ‘weak-tie’ friends, the only way I contact them is through social media – I don’t even have a few people’s phone numbers. How is that for weak?!
Other social media gurus also challenge the relevancy of Dunbar’s Number in today’s social media world.
Check out rebuttals from Jacob Morgan of Social Media Today here. Also, Chris Brogan’s “Beating Dunbar’s Number” article, seen here, discusses how not to deal with Dunbar’s Number, but how to organize your contacts to keep ‘strong’ ties with way more than 150, which Chris has to do in his profession. In addition to these, there are countless other articles that dispute Dunbar’s Number.
Questions, Comments, and Your Opinion, Please!
Obviously there are so many questions left unanswered here. Dunbar himself has expanded his investigations to include the phenomenon of social media and its effect on his earlier theories.
A few questions I have included:
-Do social networks only allow us to build weak ties with other people? Or do they allow you to have such a deep understanding of that individual that we don’t need to ‘check in’ with them more than once a month (Morten’s definition of how often we check in with a ‘weak’ tie friend).
-What does gender have to do with maintaining relationships? Are women better at this than men? Why?
-Since people tend to exaggerate about themselves on the internet, can you ever move from a ‘weak’ to a strong tie with someone only using social media? Or do you have to actually meet that person to increase your bond with them?
The questions are endless, so I found a couple videos that should help us to try to figure this all out. First, for a brief (5 minutes, really) introduction on the concept of Dunbar’s Number, delivered by Professor Dunbar, click the Play button below.
After you watch the video, tell us what you think!
For More Information:
If you’re looking for a longer explanation on the concept of Dunbar’s Number, click here. This 23 minute long video is excellent as Professor Dunbar explains his theory in relation to social media. Check that out, here.
And lastly, in case you’re interested at the background of the Dunbar Number, you can check out Dunbar’s past research, with many live links to articles, on his faculty page at Oxford University – Click here.
Have you noticed an ever growing amount of people in restaurants taking pictures of their food?
What in the world are they doing – is the food so beautiful that they just have to immortalize it?
Is there a market for food photography that we don’t know about?
Well, it turns out that photographing ones meals is one of the latest diet crazes and it’s not going away…
It is becoming so big that Sony, Fuji, and other camera manufactures have begun creating “food” options on camera menus, with optimal lighting and close-up features to enhance the look and texture of the foods…
The idea is really just an extension of food journaling (something Dr. Temes recommends) and a solid technique for weight loss. Journaling allows you to detect patterns and helps hold you accountable for the choices you make.
So the idea of taking photographs of your food really brings this dieting technique to a whole new level. As long as you don’t choose to crop out your second helping of desert, photographing your food can force you to be even more accountable for the choices you make.
If you cannot force yourself to make better choices, even by taking pictures of your food, you may want to post the photos online and have other people help monitor your progress.
Take a minute to play the short video below – this is exactly what Eva admits she needs to do to help keep herself in check.
After losing a significant amount of weight, Eva realized that she was having trouble keeping the weight off. She began to take pictures of her food, like the high tech food journal mentioned above.
But even that was not enough to help her maintain her goal weight.
So, Eva began to post pictures of her food choices on Facebook, and even created a page called “What’s Eva Eating?”
Anyone from Facebook can find her and become a fan of her page. Doing this allows you to see her posts, view her photographs, and comment away about her choices.
One harsh comment on her page read: “If I followed the Eva diet for just a weekend I would gain 10 pounds!!!!”
That is quite a wake up call to make better choices! It will be interesting to follow her progress and see how this dieting trend will work for her. (You can find her and follow her on Facebook – I did – she already has over 100 followers and counting!).
Have you had the urge to snap pictures of yours meals? Maybe this is something you’ve done for years? If you do follow this trend, comment below and let us know why, we’d love to have more examples of this new trend to chew on, and to photograph.