How many ‘friends’ can you have?

Been thinking about friends recently, with everyone seeming to want everything to be ‘social’. Yes you can go on facebook/twitter/linkedin collect likes, followers, plus ones. I’m thinking you should class them as something other than friends. So say you have 23,000 likes or 25,000 followers how much are they really worth surely friendship is related to the costs of aqisition. So if you have a genuine friend you probably spent time building that friendship. Regardless of how you did that. That seems on an entirely different level to someone who you clicked ‘follow’ on a profile page.

Many social networks seem to be more about a build up of noise. Which is probably fine if you just want to create noise around your product launch or buzz around an event. Its just not the same thing as friendship.

When you read about Dunbars number which seems to show a limit on meaningful social connections we as humans can cope with as being around about 150, you can see that perhaps having 5000 connections on linkedin is near to meaningless.

Can you really say what those peoples skills are or relate to them in any meaningful way. When asked to endorse them can you even do that?

Perhaps the new term for these connections should be something like on a scale from real friend, the person you’ve known for years and would help in any circumstances 10 to a minimal connection like ‘a like’ at 1.

So all I need now is some kind of term for these new 0 scale friends what should you call a tenth of a friend?. Bruce Schneer suggests clique member < 5 to tribe member >= 1500.

I guess in the end these networks give you an indication of whats happening amongst a group, you just have to watch out for the bias. Are those connections meaningful?