Friday, 30 April 2010

The fabulous five

This week has been more of a studying week than writing. It's been way more enjoyable than the days of reading a page in a text book five times, trying to recognise some relevance to my original interest. 
Now it's so much more multi-sensory. In addition to the reading, I've 'attended' online lectures in Oxford and London and listened to podcasts of talks given oversees. 
I'm researching a piece on communities and this has led me to the theories of anthropologists, some of which are available on the net, including the RSA website.
There's a whole feast of information gathering gently into place in my mind but the first figure that appears consistently relevant in the research is five.
We have all heard that we only need to able to count all our best friends with one hand. The theory being that we are only capable of maintaining and feeding five close friendships. 
Each relationship requires a certain amount of shared experience and/or nurturing and we don't have enough within us to have that depth of empathy for more than five.
They then become close friends up to fifteen friends, and so it goes on with lessening degrees of connection to 150, which really has to be our cut off point. After that they should be considered acquaintances. Since I started this research a couple of months ago, it has begun to make more and more sense.
If we are counting best friends as the ones we would tell our most private secrets to; someone who we would call at four in the morning if the going got tough, then I'm with the five. Between five and fifteen is the pool of people we feel really close to and would do anything for but only involve in our lives to a point.
Facebook has made Friends a very wide term and has now gone one step further and opened up the whole fan/like/follow/friend choices. 
My Friend Requests list includes companies now and looks more like a list from Yellow Pages. A bit confusing, but I may just accept the plumbers. I never know when I may need to ring them at 4am.

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