There’s a number which is called Dunbar’s Number. It’s around 150 or so.
It’s a significant number in that it seems to indicate that, as humans, we are incapable of having a meaningful discussion and keeping personal links with other humans if we have to do that for a group larger than this number.
Think about how many friends you have, no not Instagram acquaintances, real friends? Now think about how many of them you can keep in touch with in a meaningful way. It’s probably much less than Robin Dunbar’s suggestion.
I’ve started to see discussions about having a much more sociable social network, prompted by not just Elmo’s destruction of Twitter but the abject fatigue surrounding the use of social media that sucks you dry and intentionally disconnects you emotionally from a human being on another smartphone. Connecting more people was supposed to bring us together. Instead, it has succeeded in doing the exact opposite. For example, suggestions discuss limiting follows and followers to around 300 people or so and making them mutually agreed upon.
I don’t know the solution, and I don’t think it is Mastodon in its current guise. Still, I think it is a good starting point for people, organisations, institutions and even governments to see how they can build more community rather than more division.
Community centres and youth clubs were everywhere before. They weren’t perfect, nor do I expect Social Media to be. But I think there’s an opportunity to build something more localised and connected simultaneously. And that is what I think the value of something like Mastodon may inspire.
5 January 2023 — French West Indies