Why Social Networks are like Small Towns
In the 60’s and 70’s there were many intentional communities set up all over the world. There was a lot of research into social behavior in an effort to find the best way to set up a community and avoid problems in the future. One interesting fact that emerged from this research was:
A person can know by face and even recall the names of about 600 people, once the population of your community exceeds 600, you have the situation where anonymity exists, crime increases and a whole range of behavioural issues come to light. Why? Because when you don’t know someone it’s easier not to be empathetic to their plight. It’s easy to ignore their problems.
Social Networks and Small town communities have a lot in common. For example in a small town you’ll visit various businesses and establishments frequently and you get to know the person behind the counter or desk. It might be your bank manager, then on the weekend you pass a house in town and there he is a Spiderbait T-shirt and grubby shorts, mowing the lawn. You see him again at local Chinese restaurant waiting for takeaway or wheeling his aged mother down the main street on Sunday. All these glimpses give you a better understanding of that person.
The relationships that people build can be strong and lasting because we have suddenly the ability to see a person from different perspectives, with each new perspective you begin to understand the person better.
In social networks, you may connect with a colleague via LinkedIn, they check out your Facebook link, they see your holiday snaps or wedding photos, it’s a very similar experience and these events create strong connections based upon the understanding that: most people have similar experiences, throughout life.
Social Media Networks encourage us to reach out as humans, connect and empathize with other humans. They have transformed the often-awkward act of socialization into an easy, fun game. Just remember to have a good look at your friends once you surpass 600.