You may have noticed that it’s not terribly difficult to build up a huge list of connections on your favorite social platform, if volume is your goal. Volume doesn’t necessarily translate to quality, but there are plenty of tactics to rack up big connections numbers if you’re just aiming for a “high score,” or bragging rights. This is on my mind thanks to an article circulating from Media Post, which suggests that our brains are wired to limit us to 150 to 200 relationships, even with the advantages of digital technology.
You know that I’m big on building relationships, and it’s certainly important to give the people you connect with the time they deserve. But those numbers just don’t add up to me for a few important reasons.
What’s in a Friend?
The first sticking point – and it’s a big one – is that the article doesn’t provide a firm definition of what it means to be a friend or maintain a relationship. If a friend can only be someone that you speak to every day, visit often and invite to holiday dinners, then sure, maintaining more than 150 of those relationships wouldn’t leave you enough time to eat, work and sleep. That’s a pretty narrow definition, though, and one that feels more than a bit dated in our digital world.
When I’m building a relationship (online or otherwise) I place real value on the small interactions. It might be a colleague, someone totally new, or the person who works the counter at the best local lunch spot. If you value the time that you spend with another person, then you don’t have to be in constant contact to maintain a healthy relationship. Besides, if we’re talking about the difference between friends and acquaintances, we have to recognize that most of our close friends began as acquaintances in the first place.
Expanding Your Influence
Now, back to those big social connection counts. You may have noticed that I like to put myself out there. I love meeting new people. It’s never been about numbers with me, and I certainly don’t place an upper limit on the amount of people that I connect with. The key is that if we maintain a broad range of relationships online, we’re really moving from one sphere of influence to another.
In other words, those 150 – 200 friends are on a sort of rotation. It’s not that I forget about people. Life just has a way of directing you toward one sphere or another, depending on what you’re doing at the time. For instance, one of the best things about starting college is opening yourself up to a huge group of new people, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your friends from back home. That process continues after college when we begin a new job, move to a new town, pick up a new hobby or sign up for a new social platform.
So give your current relationships the time that they deserve, but don’t let that stop you from connecting with new people online. Life rarely follows a straight line. It meanders from one point to the next, and I’m always excited to meet the people who are waiting around the next corner. #RonR… #NoLetUp!