DIGITAL GRAVEYARD

If you, on one lazy afternoon, bored as you are, deem it worth your time to stalk me on Facebook, you would find that I have close to four hundred friends, all of whom I have taken great care to not be in touch with. Why, you ask, expecting me to reply that classic statement – that I simply do not have the time or that I do not care for them; or better yet, that I wish to wallow in my misery. You want me to say that they were but, for me, mere tools to get past a phase of my life when I had no money, but instead, lots of time. This now, though, to some extent, is true. If only had I realized then the true value of time, I would have chosen to spend it more wisely – by myself.

No. I am not being ungrateful for the support and love I have received from my friends during what can only be, unarguably, the not-very-pleasant phases of my life. Nor am I, now basking in the glory of my new found job and recent success, looking down on them with a patronizing grin, as if I regret to admit the company that I keep… kept. No. I have, in fact, great respect for them and love their company.

But on one lazy afternoon, I, bored as you are, would rather prefer to be at my local coffee shop, alone, at my usual spot – the one beside the window, on the corner – gazing at speeding cars, not noticing the pretty, half-naked girls gracing the pages of those lifestyle magazines that I carelessly flip. Someone would bring me a cup of coffee and I, without taking my eyes of the window and the befallen mist upon it, could tell that it is my usual one – The French Kiss, the aroma of which now swirls around me and conceal me the from the world that is.

And there you sit, wide eyed in wonder, reading my loneliness. It is a joy to behold, but yet the question remains unanswered. Why, you ask again, expecting me to reply in lyrical, magical expressions. Instead, I stare down at my cup until you lure your eyes there – to the frothy layer of condescending cream, which can’t help but dissolve into the crude, dark coffee. It is in the science, I tell you. You certainly can’t see that now, can you? Just like you can’t tell apart cream and coffee. It is in the atomic layer, dear reader, that friendships are forged. Not good deal of time hand holding, midnight texting, or that Facebook request you sent a week ago. Get in alignment with that sort of science and you can beam like the sunshine… alone!

Apparently a great deal of research has been done on the subject and as it turns out, and this is proven by Oxford Univesity anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who had studied human relationships in societies from Stone Age to Facebook, most people are only capable of maintaining stable relations with about 150 others. Within that 150 – a figure now known as Dunbar’s number (of course!) – Dunbar has identified smaller concentric circles of intimacy. The band closer to you can only contain five. Five! The rest are friends you can afford to not be in touch with, or if put bluntly, friends who can be discarded. Discarded? Discarded where, you ask. A valid question. Luckily, there is a virtual graveyard for your friends – Facebook!

Five. Yes, but if you watch American sitcoms, you would already know that you only need THREE. Take for example, Big Bang Theory or something less nerdy, Entourage – the number of people constantly surrounding the main character is always, or at least in most occasions, three. If that is the case, then, dear reader, I got to warn you that out of the five friends in Dunbar’s closest circle of intimacy, you have two untrustworthy friends who would not hesitate to backstab you. Fear not. Have you heard the phrase – keep your friends close and your enemies closer? What if, in your subconscious state, you were doing just that?

There, then, dear reader, if it is finally clear how the state of affairs are when it comes to friendship, can I then be pardoned for my lack of concern or care for my virtual friends? Thank you very much!

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