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The Psychology of Facebook Examined 189

Posted by Zonk
from the what-goes-on-in-a-websites-head dept.
jg21 writes "In this analysis of the psychology of Facebook, a British FB user makes some telling points about how simple the reasons behind its success are. Among them, fear of 'online social failure' features prominently. From the article: 'Facebook also digs away at the insecurities in people...your peers can see your profile on Facebook, and while they may have 50, 100, 200 friends they will mockingly see that you have a pathetically small number, confirming your worst fears about the low opinion they have probably held of you over all those years etc.'"
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The Psychology of Facebook Examined

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  • Executive Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:14AM (#19814387) Journal
    So I think the only thing worth mentioning from this article is something that's obvious to the youth but apparently not so obvious to the older crowd--that younger people today use social networking sites (like Facebook) as a kind of status symbol.

    That's about it.

    Now, the author could go on to discuss the quality of those friends or some deeper psychological impact that this has on youth today (you know, like the title might lead you to believe). But, unfortunately, the second part reads more like an ad for Facebook than even an objective quantifiable analysis at what makes it better than other sites. I enjoyed this gem:

    FR looks AWFUL. Not in a vile MySpace way, but in a "My first attempt at HTML" way. Facebook is slick and so 2007. Friends Reunited is clunky and basic, so 1997. There is no way any self-respecting net user is going to evangelise about FR.
    So you claim that the looks are disgusting but not bad like MySpace (which is possibly the most successful social site so far) but bad like "My first attempt at HMTL" ... like all the customized pages on MySpace? I'm so confused, if you're going to knock them for bad looks, don't compare them to the top dog. Obviously looks don't make or break a social networking site. In fact, I would wager that marketing (movies have their own MySpace pages now, what?) has much more to do with it than usability or functionality.

    Well, that sounds pretty opinionated and also very unhelpful. After reading this article selling Facebook, I feel like I need to use Facebook for social networking but I don't even know why ...

    They also criticize ad placement in Facebook with a graphic that reads: "Facebook Ads! Yuck!" while on their site I notice a top banner, a left hand 'ads by Google' and also Advertisement boxes on the right. Um, you probably want to lay off the way that Facebook earns their income, especially when A) you say they're great for being 'free' and B) the site you publish on is using the same method.

    So, a borderline Slashvertisement that is hilariously hypocritical and undertakes a psychological analysis of users on a social networking site without doing any surveys or real research that is often necessary to be able to say anything about your 'psychological studies' since any assumptions in the field can be as crazy as Sigmund Freud's Penis Envy Complex [wikipedia.org].

    In this analysis of the psychology of Facebook, a British FB user makes some telling points about how simple the reasons behind its success are.
    No, no it does not. It is not an 'analysis' even by the loosest sense of the word & it certainly does nothing more than bash sites I've never heard about and avoid tackling the biggest obstacles for Facebook (MySpace and the zombie-back-from-the-grave-Friendster). Things must be awfully different between here and England for this to be frontpaged on Slashdot.

    I'm going to go ahead and give this article an F and ask for the last ten minutes of my life back.
    • by Dancindan84 (1056246) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:19AM (#19814457)
      See, that's why you should be like everyone else and not RTFA.
    • by GizmoToy (450886)
      I didn't get the disdain for the ads, either. The site is not charging its users, so something has to pay the bills. If there's no membership fee, it's got to come from advertising. I don't see the big deal there.
    • Frankly I didn't know anything about facebook other than the name until a couple weeks ago until an old college buddy and I were IMing. He was chatting about some of the old faces and names from our graduating class including some of my ex-college flings, etc. I poked around for 5 minutes on a lark, found it to be a nigh bit frustrating on getting access to groups, etc. and said the hell with it.

      But my friend kept going on and on and on about who was on it, what they were doing, John Smith is now a Lawyer
      • Re:Executive Summary (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:02PM (#19815087) Homepage Journal
        "But my friend kept going on and on and on about who was on it, what they were doing, John Smith is now a Lawyer, Jane Doe is getting her MD, Bob married Suzie, etc.. Seemed like most of the folks on there wanted to brag about something. Whether it was family and how happy they were, or look at my killer job and car, etc."

        You know...rather than trying to gather 100-300 online 'friends', I guess I've just been busy with my 10-15 REAL friends. Most of them, I've known for over 20 years. I already know if their married, kids or not, what they do for a living. We all keep in touch by varios means, but, nothing is better than the face to face visit.

        The important people (some I've known since I was 11yrs old), are the ones that I'd toss my house keys to, trust with my dog and other worldy possessions. These are people that I'd trust to help me in a life or death situation...people that I'd loan money to without hesitiation if they asked. I'd much rather spend my time on those friends rather than trying to rack up 100's of names for a website.

        Don't get me wrong, I love to find old acquantences from the past...and hope they grow into friends, but, in general time spent grooming and promoting real friendships is time better spent.

        • I agree. As I said, it was a lark to see what some of the people I knew were up to these days, but it's not anything that interests me that often. I kept up with 8 people from college. (and 4 are married to another). We even get together once every two years for a weekend somewhere. But that's getting harder as people are married and starting to have kids. Then there are some of us loosers who spent 5 years working and then went back to graduate school.
        • by Xeirxes (908329) <xeirxes@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @01:45PM (#19816483)
          The interesting difference between Facebook and MySpace, for me, is that most of my friends on MySpace aren't really friends... just kind of a collection. On Facebook, my friends are the people I really care about and like to talk to a lot. I see many of them more than once a week. I guess there are different friend strategies for everyone, but I don't feel that the friend collection is the norm.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by feepness (543479)

            On Facebook, my friends are the people I really care about and like to talk to a lot. I see many of them more than once a week.
            Then seriously, what's Facebook for/i.
        • by drix (4602)
          Here here! It's rare I find someone else who shares this outlook, esp. in an online forum. I have way fewer friends than most people I know, and they're scattered literally across the globe. But we go back to high school in most cases. They're like family. I'd take a bullet for any of them. In a way it's bad, because I find myself hardly even making an effort to make new friends, being completely content with the ones I have now.

          People who spend large amounts of time socializing through the computer just st
        • by Gilmoure (18428)
          Yup! Most of my LJ friends are people who've I've known 20+ years. LJ does make for an easy way to keep up-to-date after I moved cross country. I have maybe 5 people who've friended me over the last 3 years who I've only known online.

          'Course, I'm an anti-social geek so 200 friends would drive me nuts.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by excelsior_gr (969383)
          All friends are REAL, unless declared INTEGER.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:43AM (#19814815)
      I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Facebook fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of Facebook for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy 17 friends from one group on the site to another group. 20 minutes. At home, on my Orkut account, which by all standards should be a lot slower than Facebook, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

      In addition, during this transfer, Netscape will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even Notes is straining to keep up as I type this.

      I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on Facebook, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen Facebook run faster than its social networking counterparts, despite Facebook's faster Web 2.0 architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs Orkut faster than this 300 mhz machine does Facebook at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Facebook is a superior social networking site.

      Facebook addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use Facebook over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.
      • by nizcolas (597301)
        ah, if only there were a "classic" tag.

        (though in most cases, classic is synonymous with troll)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr_Silver (213637)

      Obviously looks don't make or break a social networking site. In fact, I would wager that marketing (movies have their own MySpace pages now, what?) has much more to do with it than usability or functionality.

      MySpace has a significant advantage over facebook - that is the length of time it has been running and the user base. People will put up with something that isn't so great if all their friends are using it (insert IM client you think is lousy here).

      If MySpace and facebook launched at the same time

      • Given that Facebook started out in colleges and only slowly let the proles in there is a certain snob value to being on facebook as opposed to myspace. Besides Platform really rocks. Its the first time I have been tempted to spend my own time to create software for free.
    • by loganrapp (975327)
      Sounds like this dude was looking for a reason to get a grant.
    • by Bogtha (906264)

      FR looks AWFUL. Not in a vile MySpace way, but in a "My first attempt at HTML" way. Facebook is slick and so 2007. Friends Reunited is clunky and basic, so 1997. There is no way any self-respecting net user is going to evangelise about FR.

      So you claim that the looks are disgusting but not bad like MySpace (which is possibly the most successful social site so far) but bad like "My first attempt at HMTL" ... like all the customized pages on MySpace?

      It's not expressed well, but I think the same thing

    • So you claim that the looks are disgusting but not bad like MySpace (which is possibly the most successful social site so far) but bad like "My first attempt at HMTL" ... like all the customized pages on MySpace? I'm so confused, if you're going to knock them for bad looks, don't compare them to the top dog. Obviously looks don't make or break a social networking site. In fact, I would wager that marketing (movies have their own MySpace pages now, what?) has much more to do with it than usability or functionality.

      I use Facebook and not MySpace because Facebook is pretty and MySpace is hideous. In my opinion, it is the biggest selling point of Facebook. Just because the most popular social networking site is ugly doesn't mean we should make that some sort of standard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xTantrum (919048)
      This article is retarded. facebook works because it already caters to young people who spend all their time online anyway and an excellent way to keep in touch with friends.

      it works for older people because its an excellent way to get in touch with old classmates and it works for business because its a already established market XOR demographics to advertise.

      this article sounds like its written who doesn`t know ish about online communities or the youth or today and the internet`s impact on it, and it being

    • by demachina (71715)
      The really important thing about social networking sites has been totally forgotten. The beauty of social networking sites is that, once you get the ball rolling, and sucker a certain number of people in to one, they drag all their friends in to them whether they want to be in them or not...and then they drag all their friends in because they are there and they don't want to look friendless. They are the definition of viral marketing and are the way to go if you want to get rich like a dot com millionaire
  • The real reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jaaay (1124197) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:17AM (#19814429)
    behind the success of all SN sites is most people prefer to sit at home sending messages to everyone they may or may not know instead of picking up the phone. It's more impersonal so people find it easier to waste time casually instead of calling up 30 people and going out so much.
    • by wallyhall (665610) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:21AM (#19814491) Homepage
      http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comici d=877 [phdcomics.com]

      I see this every day. For real.
      • Re:The real reason (Score:4, Insightful)

        by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:32AM (#19814661)
        With all the comparing of friend-counts as a measure of social status, I treat Facebook and other social networking sites like a game of Global Thermonuclear War: the only way to win is not to play.

        Or, to paraphrase an old military recruitment campaign slogan, all I need is a few good friends.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kaleco (801384)
      I find social networking (in my case using Bebo) to be an excellent way of keeping in touch with casual acquaintences, like people I work beside, friends who have moved away or general people I don't really have a need to phone. Some people treat friends like Pokemon cards, and the sites certainly encourage this. When you log in to Bebo you're presented with an 'Updates' page which shows the latest developments in your contacts' social arms race- a list of who's added who to their friends list. However, I'
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      No its because going to a movie costs like $10-12 for the ticket. Then another $20 for a supersized popcorn and pop that'd make McDonald's jealous.

      Total cost for 2 people to go: $60-70.

      Coincidentally the MPAA is losing money as social networking sites gain popularity :P might as well blame it on that instead of piracy.
  • by eln (21727) * on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:18AM (#19814439) Homepage
    I have 2,874 friends on MySpace, and they are all super cool. All the women are constantly trying to get me to look at them naked (girls, please, one at a time! I'm not a machine!) and the guys are always trying to give me free stuff (iPods, Wiis, you name it!). I am truly blessed to have so many generous and caring friends.
  • A person should have 50 friends, max. Problem solved.
    • by sqrt(2) (786011)
      So you're saying 50 friends should be enough for anyone? ...I'm so sorry
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Analogy Man (601298)
      It has been said that if you need more than one hand to count your true friends, you should consider yourself blessed.

      Of course this definition of friend is the sort that would bring you chicken soup when you had the flu, help you dig an old oil tank out of your yard, take your kids up to their cabin so you could have a quite weekend with your spouse, help you get through the loss of a family member or divorce...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by liquidpele (663430)
        Okay, while I agree 100%, that was WAY to deep for a discussion about Facebook.

        Facebook is a place mainly for people to keep track of old never-going-to-see-in-person-again friends' contact information, and for college kids to send out party invites. That's the extent of it.

        If you only talk to your closest friends on facebook, you probably need counseling for depression.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Threni (635302)
      50 friends, or some space on a server allocated to an array of 50 strings of alphanumeric characters? There is a difference. What's the point of Facebook again?

    • In some of my profiles, I explicitly indicate I am NOT there to rack up insane and unmanagealbe numbers of so-called "friends". I find it mind-boggling and weird that people try to associate with and manage hundreds (even 150) friends they neither directly nor thru a close friend.

      Such persons should be ranked or called virtual acquantainces until justifiably called a REAL FRIEND.

      Many of these sites bankroll on gobs of INSECURE, EXTRAVERTED people. I am some of both, but not to the tune of hundreds of friend
  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:23AM (#19814547)

    while they may have 50, 100, 200 friends they will mockingly see that you have a pathetically small number,

    They can see I have a pathetically small member?!? I *knew* I shouldn't have bought that webcam.

    Oh.. number... sorry... :-)

    Well, who cares if I don't have any friends - I mean, why else would I be using Facebook.




    * disclaimer: I happen not to have a webcam, or use Facebook. And fortunately I was blessed by God. Still don't have any friends though, why else would I be posting on /. ?

  • Friends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dunezone (899268) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:24AM (#19814555) Journal

    Facebook also digs away at the insecurities in people. "I have one friend" probably makes some people feel a bit insecure and Billy no-mates. In the deeply insecure, this may be amplified by the lie-awake-at-night worry that your peers can see your profile on Facebook, and while they may have 50, 100, 200 friends they will mockingly see that you have a pathetically small number, confirming your worst fears about the low opinion they have probably held of you over all those years etc.
    The individual who has less friends is more likely to be secure with themselves, since you know they actually try to create some sort of friendship bond. Ive had facebook since 2005 when my university was added to the system. So far Ive realized that the individual who adds everyone as a friend, even when the two people have only said "Hi" once to each other, is usually the person who is insecure and just fucking crazy.
    • Re:Friends (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sqrt(2) (786011) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:40AM (#19814781) Journal
      Too fucking true.

      I only have 12 friends on facebook because...I only have twelve friends that USE facebook. I don't just add random people because they're from the same school/region, and I don't accept request from the same.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Limited profile. Back when I used Facebook (before it was full of these wonderful "features"). I used my limited profile extensively. People that added me as their friend that I really didn't know too well got my limited profile. No pictures, no address, no wall. They just assumed I didn't facebook much. Every so often I'd either promote or demote people. I haven't seen or talked to you in 2 months. You're not a friend. We started hanging out and you're cool. Full profile.
    • by IgLou (732042)
      Why does it seem like these useless articles keep getting posted by Zonk?

      Seriously, it was a non-article. I'm not even thinking about how many friends I have on there but I am floored by how easy it has been to connect with people I haven't heard from in years and all the need applications that have been built on top of the platform.

      But this article was just a piece of rubbish. He misses the point, people in my demographic don't collect friends. A lot of us look to reconnect. We've gone through i
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) * <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:07PM (#19815175) Homepage Journal
      Seconded.

      Where I really draw the line is in "friending" people that you've never met except via Facebook/Myspace, and that you have no real connection to otherwise. It seems like at that point, you've transformed what's basically a useful online addressbook into ego-boosting wankery.

      I really like Facebook, but I guess I'm just not really into "social networking." (Whatever that means, exactly.) To me it's a good way to keep track of people's changing contact information (it was so much better back when they had an automatic export-to-VCard option) and occasionally to browse photos (although, if you have more than a handful there are better places to go, like Flickr).

      Ultimately what I want out of Facebook is just a version of 'finger [gnu.org]' that's simple enough for non-technical people to use. As they've gotten further away from that core functionality, it's become less compelling.
    • Facebook profiles tend to include cell phone numbers, emails and IM screennames. You can't look those up anywhere yet they're the best way to reach many people.
      • by CRCulver (715279)
        Too bad FOAF [foaf-project.org] still hasn't taken off, then you could have the benefit of an address book you could reach at any time, but without the disadvantage of keeping it on a single site owned by a corporation that might just disappear down the line.
        • by enos (627034)
          FOAF looks too complicated for the vast majority of people. Nearly the entire population of universities are on Facebook, not just the CS department (who seem to dislike social networking anyway).
    • Re:Friends (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lurker2288 (995635) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @01:29PM (#19816293)
      To be fair, though, one of my friends has tons of people on her Facebook page, and when I called her on it, she pointed out that a lot of random classmates/friends of friends/desperate guys sent her friend requests, and she would rather take the low cost step of adding them as a friend, rather than rejecting them and generating ill will. I guess you could classify that as insecurity, but personally I think it's a normal social reaction, given that it takes pretty much no effort/energy/thought to add someone as a friend.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:25AM (#19814565) Journal
    Mostly because I don't friend every casual acquaintance.

    Because I know I can't keep up with >100 people, I don't bother to try.
    Not to mention that the feed would run for pages.

    Soo, it seems I don't fit into TFA's first three, or last two categories.
    For those of you who aren't going to read it, that leaves one category.

    And not to attack the author, but this is a reprint of something he wrote for his blog.
  • friends list envy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lazarian (906722) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:27AM (#19814591)
    "and while they may have 50, 100, 200 friends they will mockingly see that you have a pathetically small number" I'd rather have 10 or so people who are worth communicating with than 200 who I could barely keep up with. Most people who have enormous lists of friends probably view themselves as being in a popularity contest anyway.
    • Yeah, I keep it exclusive. You've got to complete a 3 page off line application with supporting letters written by two friends already accepted. Got to keep the riff raff out you know.
    • I have 211 friends, including an infant, a bronze statue, and Søren Kierkegaard. I don't see it as a popularity contest. I ignore 90% of them, but if I ever need a place to crash somewhere, I'm probably covered. It's not like all the extra friends are taking any time out of my day, and I like being able to contact casual acquaintances.
  • Oh noes! (Score:2, Funny)

    by mecenday (1080691)
    You have more strangers in your friends list than I!
  • low friend count? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SolusSD (680489) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:28AM (#19814619) Homepage
    I have around 70 facebook friends- most of which happen to be real friends. Anyone with 200/300+ facebook friends is most likely just adding anyone they know.
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      70 friends!? I only have 15. Man, I'm never going on facebook again!
    • by whyde (123448) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:15PM (#19815291)
      Definition of "freind":
      • Web 2.0: Someone who recognizes your name and is willing to click a mouse button.
      • Reality: Someone who will help you move.
      • Fiction: Someone who will help you move the body.

      • by kabocox (199019)
        Definition of "friend":
        * Web 2.0: Someone who recognizes your name and is willing to click a mouse button.
        * Reality: Someone who will help you move.
        * Fiction: Someone who will help you move the body.


        I want something that's a cross between a telephone book and a year book for my town. Actually, I want to be able to click on a web page and see everyone employed in my building and their name, their position and their picture
    • by pohl (872) *
      That could be true for a lot of people. On the other hand, they could legitimately have that many social connections, as in the concept of Connectors [wikipedia.org].
    • "I have around 70 facebook friends- most of which happen to be real friends. Anyone with 200/300+ facebook friends is most likely just adding anyone they know."

      I have around _15_ facebook friends most of which are real friends. Anyone with 60/70+ facebook friends is most likely just adding anyone they know ...
      • by SolusSD (680489)
        sorry... you just don't have any friends. would you like to be my friend? I mean-- i'll add you. :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by theuedimaster (996047)
      I think all of you are missing the point here by going after people with high number of friends, and justifying those with a low number of friends (let's say 300 vs. 30). I keep reading posts about people who say they want to keep a low number of close friends on facebook, and that anybody who goes about facebook "friendship" differently is somehow insecure and inferior.

      Facebook is a social networking app. That's it. That's all folks. Who says it's gotta be for best friends only? What if it is a social
  • I actually really like Facebook, even though I've been out of school for over a year, I still go there every day to catch up with friends. The thing is, I don't really have a lot of friends on Facebook, about 30 I think, which for me is more than enough. Everyone I'm friends with on Facebook, I'm actually friends with in real life, or know them very well through online forums. I don't indiscriminately accept friends from random people with the same last name, or kids who went to high school with me that I never talked to; I wasn't your friend then and I'm not your friend now. At one point, I had about 10 people in "friend limbo". People who wanted to be my friend but I didn't have the heart to deny them, but I denied them all one day, so that's that.

    30 friends is a good number to keep up with for me. My "news feed" gets filled every day and I get to keep up with all of them easily.
  • Facebook already knew this. Their "slick appearance" and easy integration with schools, etc. is really just a way to rope in a lot of customers, and play on people's vanity and insecurity in order to create a rich and detailed advertising market. How else do you find out for sure what movies people like? One easy way is to let them advertise what they think is "cool" to their friends. Isn't everything on Facebook just a cleverly (or not) disguised ad? IMHO they hope to derive most of their income from
  • Who Cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by friend.ac (1071626) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:38AM (#19814753) Homepage
    Come on, who honestly cares whether someone has got 400 friends or 40, obviously it goes back to the old school days of "I've got more friends than you" but surely we've grown out of it - haven't we?

    I run a small, free SN website, that I've tried match between MySpace and Facebook, people do click round and add random people to their friends list, but surely its a good thing to get to meet new people that you wouldn't normally do, whether its online or not?

    I actually met my girlfriend, soon to be wife and mother online, so I think its a great thing and just some fun, but you have to admit all the news about Facebook groups and someone getting thrown out of school, reporting of bullying online as well as all the 'analysis' of Facebook or Myspace is all about publicity (positive or negative doesnt matter) for them - I'm sure half of it is marketing!
  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:41AM (#19814803)

    Facebook also digs away at the insecurities in people...your peers can see your profile on Facebook, and while they may have 50, 100, 200 friends they will mockingly see that you have a pathetically small number, confirming your worst fears about the low opinion they have probably held of you over all those years etc.

    So just like real life then.

    As in, there are some people who think that the number of friends you have (however rare you see, speak or do anything with them) is more important than a smaller number of quality friends who you see, speak and socialise with more often.

    • Yeah to be honest... I don't have that many friends on facebook, but that's more to protect my privacy. I only allow friends to view my profile. Therefore, I only allow my real friends to be my facebook friend... Not because my self esteem is low or whatever. One of my old roommates had a goal of having 300 friends. She ended up making a lot of people just angry and annoyed when she would ask them to be her friend for the 15th time.
  • I don't get it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mdm-adph (1030332)
    I revel in the fact that I have a small number of friends on Facebook -- to me, it means that the friends I have listed are close associates, and not shallow acquaintances like someone who has hundreds.
  • I understand that these SNS are growing to a point where people are interested in analyzing the psychology behind them, but I still need to ask... What ever happened to meeting people in real life? What ever happened to "ring...ring... Hey, it's (name), let's grab a beer after work?" While I'm not qualified to go any deeper than casual, day-to-day observations, it's just astounding to me that so many people are placing that much emphasis on a certain arrangement of 1's and 0's that are interpreted a cert
    • I am not sure why the medium should matter.
      Why do people participate in discussions on slashdot? They too are just a certain arrangement of 1's and 0's that are interpreted a certain way through computers and networks. But sometimes those arrangements can actually make you think about something, or learn something.
      I am not saying not to use all sorts of different mediums in your daily live, but maybe it's more convenient to just email your friends, or post a meeting online to say you want to meet up after
  • by thewils (463314)
    A friend sent me a link for his Facebook profile. The link wouldn't work unless I was registered with the site myself. What a crock of shit I thought, as I declined to join.
  • I know that I for one have never been affected by these influences until Facebook came along. It's not like it's just a normal part of peer group dynamics or anything, it's completely new!
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:10PM (#19815207) Homepage

    The amazing thing about Facebook is that it's a tiny company. Facebook headquarters is in a little building at 170 Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto, next to the yoga shop and nail salon, and across from the retro soda fountain. It doesn't take much in the way of staff to run the thing. The servers are in Northern Virginia, but most of the staff is in that little building in Palo Alto.

    Now that's successful "Web 2.0".

    • And that's exactly how an Internet company should be run.

      I remember reading an article a few months back about how Craigslist runs its offices out of an old Victorian-style mansion in CA that actually costs somewhat less than traditional "office space". They only keep a small staff on hand, pay them well (proportional to the success of the company), and accordingly, have never lost an employee.

      Sure, this strategy won't make the owners/founders of the company uber-rich, but it does quite a bit to ensure the
  • by puppetman (131489) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:17PM (#19815319) Homepage
    If there is a fear of social failure, then wouldn't people avoid Facebook if they suspected that other hold a low opinion of them?

    As for the 300 "friends" argument - I have little time in real life for people outside work who aren't good friends. I certainly don't have time to maintain tenuous relationships electronically with people I barely know or barely remember. It's the quality of your friendships, not the quantity.

  • 10 Years ago (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tragedy4u (690579) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:27PM (#19815453)
    If you proclaimed you had 100 online friends you would've been branded a nerd and outcast. Now if you have 100 online friends you're a 'cool' person. The mentality of computers certainly has changed.
    • by bogjobber (880402)
      I would assume that's because people understand that facebook friends roughly correlate to friends in real life. If you told people you have 100 friends that you speak to only via IRC or WoW, I'm sure you would still see a similar social stigma.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:39PM (#19815603) Homepage
    and while they may have 50, 100, 200 friends they will mockingly see that you have a pathetically small number

    I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zegota (1105649)
      Agreed. I have never, EVER heard anyone brag about how many facebook friends they had. Maybe this is something more common in junior high and high school, but in college, it's used as social interaction, not as a status symbol. At least in my experience.
    • by dcam (615646)
      "Quantity has a quality all its own" - Josef Stalin [google.com]
  • I'd rather have... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fyre2012 (762907)
    ... 5 good friends over 100+ 'Facebook' friends anyday.
  • Facebook also digs away at the insecurities in people...your peers can see your profile on Facebook, and while they may have 50, 100, 200 friends they will mockingly see that you have a pathetically small number, confirming your worst fears about the low opinion they have probably held of you over all those years etc.

    Gee, I don't remember ever caring what other people thought of my social status in high school. Some people are fine with 200 shallow friendships and others just stay close with a dozen pe
    • One of the funny things about self-image is that you don't see it head-on, the id doesn't allow it. Your response is a dead giveaway that you did care, and still do. See, you cared so little, that you went out of your way to tell the world you really don't care. Actions are more powerful than words you see.

      Vicious thing, that subconscious ego...
  • Not Psychology (Score:2, Informative)

    by Miang (1040408)
    What a disappointment, there wasn't anything 'psychological' about this analysis -- contrary to popular belief, mention of angst does not psychology make. :D

    More's the pity, because psychology is (as always) a few years behind the times, but some work is finally starting to be done on the real principles governing social networking behavior. Wendi Gardner and one of her graduate students at Northwestern, whose name I am chagrined to admit I cannot recall, have some work in online social perception (thou
  • However (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Arrmed (1126311)
    While some might use facebook to booster their social status online, I find photo sharing and commenting is extremely nice- better than sending hordes of jpeg laden emails out, or using photobucket. Also When you don't haven unlimited roaming and your campus is far from home, the messenging old friends to see whats up cuts the phone bill down quite a bit.
  • by AncientPC (951874) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:27PM (#19816947)
    I don't have karma to spare but what the hell.

    Instead of people bragging about their high friend count, everybody on /. brags about their low friend count. Isn't that just proving insecurity in another fashion? "Look how not insecure I am by having only 2 online friends!"

    Another thing a lot of y'all don't realize, not everyone is exactly like you. Not everyone values a small group of close friends over a large social network of drinking buddies and that's OK. Your way is not the only way to create a social circle, stop looking down on others simply because they have a large social network with shallow relationships.

    And you know what? They know their social network is mostly shallow relationships and they're OK with that. They're the ones who built it!
  • I usually fFeel pretty lame and mediocre when I DO have hundreds of fFriends and a million pointless widgets on a social network.
  • by soren100 (63191) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @03:00PM (#19817337)
    One of the really interesting things about sites like Facebook is that people are putting all of their data into a massive interlinked network, which is both an advertiser's wet dream and the government's as well.

    Your email, address, friends, music, books, other interests, and who you're dating are all available on Facebook for whoever wants that information, together with your political views, club associations, educational background, possibly even your job history.

    Besides the information that you yourself put online, Facebook also contains information that it actively gains about you through other means -- just check their privacy policy: [facebook.com]

    Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience.
    So there is a profile of you in Facebook that you don't have access to, but also contains logs of chats that you have had from IM services that sold your chats to Facebook! Plus blog posts mentioning you and who knows what else -- that's pretty creepy.

    The US government has let it be known that they want "Total Information Awareness" [wired.com] for a while, and sites like Facebook end up linking all kinds of intimate personal details of large groups of people, making it one of the ideal sources for gathering that information.

    The CIA is using Facebook as a recruiting tool [wired.com], but Facebook itself also seems to have gotten its funding from people from people heavily involved in the CIA. [albumoftheday.com]

    The CIA has also been very interested in student activities for decades. [cia-on-campus.org] Most of today's leaders got started in political activities as students, and students are much less guarded about their self-expression, so it makes sense that universities would be perfect places to start gathering information for anyone planning to influence future political events.

    So go ahead and post all your personal information online, but just be aware of people other than advertisers who might be looking at it and why.
    • "Flamebait"?

      The modding on Slashdot has gotten way out of control. It seems like too many Digg users are coming here trying to "digg down" any posts that they don't agree with.

      If you don't agree with it, contribute to the discussion by explaining why it's wrong but don't just mark it as flamebait to hide it from people. Privacy is a legitimate issue and very important in the online world. People should also know when their data is probably getting added to government databases.

      The post is accurate and wel
    • I turned down an invitation after reading their terms [facebook.com], policy [facebook.com] and a Fortune article [cnn.com] that they proudly touted on their homepage.

      Throw in a bunch of typical private investor types and a megalomaniac boy-wonder CEO and they've got all the "right" boxes checked.

  • Maintaining contact with more than a handful of people through sites like Facebook does not make ALL of your friendships trite and meaningless. Some people can maintain a close circle of friends with a larger casual circle, or (as someone else pointed out) just a large circle of casual friends, by choice. Do you people mean to tell me that you call your close circle of friends every day to find out what's going on in their lives? Of course not. Friends update friends about their other friends all the ti

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