Day 11 The more the merrier

Since I quit Facebook I’ve been to London quite a lot, and, apart from the heady tincture of tramp that wafted towards me when I stepped out of Kentish Town station, the thing that’s struck me most are the huge number of people on the streets. I live in Radlett, a satellite village of London, which has a population of just 9,000 most of whom stay in their cars or their houses and only use the pavement to nip in and out of Tescos Metro. I’ve loved succumbing to the movement of the crowd in town, losing myself in the sea of faces, admiring the different styles of shoes, coats and hair ocompared to the de rigeur Juicy Couture tracksuits and black shiny puffa jackets that parade the comparatively empty streets of my little village.

At the SXSW Conference that’s going on now in Austin Texas, Brian Magierski, the chief executive of Appconomy, the Texas startup behind group messaging service GroupedIn is quoted as saying that social networks like Facebook have become too big to be social “We need to make social personal again. It’s a 500 million person problem – a Facebook size problem.” His point is, I think, (which is echoed by Dunbar’s Number that there is a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships) that too many people, equals too much noise, equals an unsatisfying experience.

As you know, I kept my Facebook friends to 100 (echoing Magierski’s view) and diminished that number further by hiding many of their posts. However, emerging out into the “real world” and joining the crowd, I think that perhaps that might have been a mistake. Who’s to say that friend 101 wouldn’t have been the person that made all the difference? Why did I limit myself like that? Wouldn’t it have been better to keep adding to the mix and filtering it from there? The most exciting experiences I have had on Facebook have been with the least expected characters. The most rewarding part of Facebook for me has been daring to cross the line from the social to the personal especially with people that I don’t really “know”.

If leaving Radlett for the Big City (albeit on days trips) has reinforced my hatred of the paraochial, and further alienated me from the place I live, why did I praise that self-same behaviour when I was on Facebook. If I ever go back, and the jury is still doing its Twelve Angry Men thing at the moment, then I think I’m going to operate an open house, even if it does means some of it gets trashed.


  • Have you been in prison? Your writing about the city reminds me of the diaries of soviet dissidents when they were released.

  • Juliet Bowbrick

    Let me see, we got married in 1998.. so I guess I’ve done nearly thirteen years hard time so far.

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