Lada 🏡 Prkic

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Who Is In Your beBee Support Clique?

Who Is In Your beBee Support Clique?


 

In spite of many drafts that wait to be finished, I find myself more inclined to write about things people do on social media, particularly on this platform. beBee is a small community in terms of the number of active English speaking users who post or comment regularly. Among them, there are distinctive close-knit groups whose members "like", share and comment on each other posts and very rarely engage with others outside their close, narrow circle. 

Reflecting on a study I've recently read about social ties, I find an onion with its layers very aptly metaphor for social media networks and circles of friendships. Notwithstanding the several hundred connections many of us have on beBee, the majority of one's interactions is devoted to just a handful - those at the innermost layers closest to the onion core (you). 
 

According to Robin Dunbar, personal social networks are hierarchically structured and consist of groups or "layers" surrounding the ego (the subject of the network) in concentric circles. Each layer differs in the quality and quantity of relationships, in other words, increasing the size of a layer decreases the intensity and quality of the relationship. 

Dr Dunbar is best known for formulating Dunbar's number, a measurement of the "cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships." Determined by the brain size (neocortex), the upper limit of humans’ ability to maintain social relationships is about 150 people in their social sphere. Within this 150, there are four layers of friends of an individual which cumulatively contain 5, 15, 50 and 150 people respectively as shown in the image. Within your 15 confidant friends, there is a close support group (clique) of your best intimate friends - 5 people on average. 

I took an onion vector graphic to visualise those friendship layers. It looks like this:
 

fQaCM.jpeg

Over the years Dunbar and his colleagues have revisited his findings from the early 1990s and found that even in the world of virtual interactions the number of meaningful relationships people can have doesn't change. And that number is just under 150, no matter the thousands of casual contacts they have on social media. That is the average. In reality, there are people who could handle fewer than that (introverts like me) and more than that (extroverts). 
 

A support clique is a small homogeneous group of users who have similar affinities and beliefs, i.e., politics, types of jobs, hobbies or musical tastes. And not only that, as found in one study of social networking websites. People even tend to link up with others who look similar to them. To me, it is a surprising result. I don't think that my beBee friends look like me, but I may be wrong. :)

Even Facebook’s own data corroborated  Dunbar's theory regarding the size of the "support clique" (5 intimate friends on average). While people on Facebook may have hundreds of connections, they mostly talk with 3 - 10 of their Facebook friends frequently enough to be considered a close friendship.  

When it comes to my personal network on beBee, these are some numbers. Among my about 400 connections (those who follow me and I follow them) on this platform, there are less than a hundred people with whom I maintain some form of engagement, at least occasionally. I would say that my "Dunbar number" is probably 80. 

Also important to say is that I don't know any of my connections offline. We never met face to face. 

The highest level of engagement I have with less than 10 Bees who I consider my close beBee friends. While growing my personal network over the years, close friendships didn't much increase in number. During the two and a half years of my presence on beBee, some of my friends left the platform (we're still in touch), some who I considered close drifted to the outer layers of my network and some others just vanished. But also some new friends came on. 

---
 

Coming back to the groups from the beginning of this post, apparently, we on beBee all have our "support clique" and "sympathy group" with whom we mostly engage. The only difference is how much time we manage to invest in maintaining friendships outside those groups; to “like”, comment and interact with a wider network. 

From the comments section of posts and tagging of specific friends, it seems that most users have interactions only with their close friends. 
 

So, what's your Dunbar number? How many people do you consider your closest friends, those who are your beBee support clique? 



 

Title Image:  Circle of Friends is an awarded photo by spyzter found on Flickr.

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Comments
Lyon Brave

Lyon Brave

9 months ago #33

beBee can feel like it has a close and intimate community. It can also get a little humdrum and repetitive.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #32

#38
Thank you for commenting on this post, Don. I know that some claims from the Dunbar's Social Brain Hypothesis turn out to be simplistic and linear especially regarding complex networks with non-linear patterns. But in a small-size community such as beBee, I found his theory pretty accurate and applicable. I look forward to reading your extent review on this topic.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #31

#24
Glad to see you in the comment thread, Clau. Thanks to Google Translator I've read several of your inspiring articles. Looking forward to engaging with you.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #30

#32
Thank you for the compliment, Fatima.😊 In fact, I feel a bit uncomfortable at receiving compliments. :) Like you, I still miss some of my dear friends that left the platform and just disappeared. I also hope that we stay in touch, if not here then on other platforms. Unfortunately, I'm not on Instagram. It would be just too much besides beBee and LinkedIn, and Twitter occasionally.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #29

#15
Pascal, completely agreed with you about mass marketing articles that clog my feed. In some aspects, the platform changes for the worse. But the best assets of beBee are the people who are passionate about this platform. As Preston said, those are Bees we see on almost every buzz. They tirelessly share and comment, although being a member of cliques where in some cases relationships between members almost border with worshipping. :)

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #28

#18
Hi, Praveen, it would be a great title for one of @Susan Rook's posts, Clicks vs Cliques. :)) Enjoyed your comment as always. You said: "I play no favourites and prefer no cliques (for there are too many of both)." To me, some cliques on beBee are more like engagement pods I've heard of recently. Members of pods are all focused on engaging in and sharing each other content. When a member of a pod posts something new, everyone in the group is required to like, comment or share. Engagement pods serve to trick the algorithm, i.e., the way social media platforms filter, rank and organise the content you see in the feed. Luckily, there is no need for tricking beBee algorithm. :) Affinity is what tied us in some form of cliques. But also, there's a difference between these groups and levels of engagement, as Phil said in his comment. In a way, we all belong to certain groups.

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

2 years ago #27

Great post Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic And I must tell you that you look very beautiful in the new picture you have on your profile. As Ken says some responses are worth waiting for especially when we have a connection with the person and share an affinity with them. I would agree that the closeness fades away Some of my very good friends on beBee have almost disappeared 👻 but I still remember the goodness and wisdom gained during my interactions with them. I hope to stay in touch with you for a very long time my Instagram is - purposedriven_strategist 😊😊😊😊😊 and Have a fabulous day ahead

Franci 🐝Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

#29
Thank you so much, Lada, and the feeling is mutual. Have a safe and successful 2019.

Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

2 years ago #25

#28
I bow to your apparently more extensive research, Lada, beyond my young adult fascination with "The Naked Ape". As for your self proclaimed "late response", I guess many of us get frustrated if we don't see a response within a few hours, which is perhaps one of the negative symptoms associated with SM and its rapid deteriorating effect on our patience and attention spans. One of the great benefits of beBee is it connects us worldwide, thus we could all benefit (particularly some of our insular friends in the USA) from remembering that some of us are going to bed while others are getting up, and some of us (presumably you and I included) have other interests and even occupations outside SM. I would suggest that a response beyond a few days or even a week might be considered 'late'. I occasionally, however, get the odd response to a comment with is several weeks, if not months, old, in which case I would say that's a "late response", as I've usually forgotten the post, the comment, and the author by then. But irrespective of my above ramblings, Lada, I'd say that your responses are always worth waiting for (and please excuse the preposition at the end of the sentence). 🤗

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #24

#10
Franci, if I have to use one word that best describes your presence on beBee, it would be 'energetic'. :) I really admire you and appreciate all your support from my first attempt at writing the blog. That's the reason I consider you my close friend, one of those closest to the onion core. :) Happy and prosperous new year, dear Franci.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #23

#11
Ken, I was also a bit sceptic if Dumbar’s number can be applied to beBee because of the number of active users which, by the way, getting smaller and smaller. But the size of subgroups/layers within the number supports his theory. Morris’s book The Naked Ape reportedly influenced Dunbar's decision to study the behaviour of wild monkeys and after that the correlation between brain size and social group size in primates and humans. According to anthropologists, even the size of hunter-gatherer groups of the cavemen had approximately 150 members. Your comment made me think about one aspect of online relationships, that is commenting. Dealing with comments is a necessity in creating meaningful relationships within our online community. The composition of my support clique and the sense of closeness as well is based on how much time I invest in maintaining relationships by engaging through commenting and personal messaging. My online time is very limited and affects the relationship with my closest beBee friends. That's the reason I stopped wasting my time on those who don't respond to comments. Having said that, I hope you do not mind my late response.😌

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #22

#8
No Bill, you rock! :))

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #21

#7
I am glad that my post inspired you, Jerry. This topic also triggered me to write this buzz after reading some research on that subject. I also found interesting Dunbar's grooming and gossip theory about language evolution. Thanks for noticing my new profile photo. :) I changed it recently.

Franci 🐝Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

#21
Love the quote Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic. And I agree, disagreements are a way of life. We can't all have the same opinions and views, or we wouldn't be human. It seems some get their feathers ruffled when there is a difference in opinion so rather than endeavor to understand reasons why, they balk at it. Seems being respectful is becoming a lost art.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

2 years ago #19

#21
Yes, Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic, that does say it all. Beautifully. Unfortunately, you may feel that way, and I certainly do, but that is not shared by all. Cheers!

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #18

#9
Thank you, Phil, for saying things about my writing clearly. :) I was just thinking about people that I consider my close beBee friends and about the strength of ties between them. The first thing that came to my mind is that having you included in this group makes it far from being self-congratulatory. In real life, I have best friends that unfortunately don't quite get along with each other. The same is here within my support group. But I believe that we can be friends although we have different opinions and beliefs. Disagreements are a way of life, and we have to be more tolerant towards those who challenge our assumptions and perspectives. You said that it is possible to feel an affinity with a group without needing to be like-minded. It reminded me of a quote attributed to Plutarch: "I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better." It says all. :)

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #17

#3
Thanks, Preston. I'm a visual learner and like graphical explanations. I also try to engage with users that are new to beBee or people that are not in my network, but most the time they don't respond even on comments on their own posts. A lack of reciprocity is the main factor that I stopped engaging with a lot of people here to whom beBee is just a "bypass station."

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #16

#4
Welcome to beBee, Mariana, and thanks for following me. I followed you back. Am so glad that you started engaging with other users' posts. Many NewBees don't do that. They even don't respond to comments on their own posts. The greatest value of beBee is an engaging community, and I look forward to engaging with you here. :)

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #15

#6
Ian, the honour is mine. Thank you.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #14

#2
Manjit, you described the behaviour of a gregarious hermit. :) Social media is a perfect medium for expressing elaborated ideas, opinion and observations, challenging the mind and expanding knowledge; all that without being a small-talker as shown in most of your comments. I think we all are to a greater or lesser extent both extrovert and introvert, and I agree with Carl Jung who said that no one is a pure introvert or pure extrovert. I often say that I'm an introvert but not as a label of myself but more to point to some introverted patterns of my personality.

Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

2 years ago #13

A thought provoking title almost provocative it’s true in many ways i know personally I don’t take time to explore other posts or writers partly because the platform has been littered by crappy content and mass marketing inappropriate posts and I don’t have time to debunk the good from the bad unfortunately

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#12
Agree with you dear Lada

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

Agree

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

2 years ago #10

#1
Dear Ali, thank you for being the first to comment and share. :) Sara was one of my friends that left the platform and unfortunately, I lost contact with her. Cliques are commonly seen as groups of mutually interconnected members. In theory, membership in two cliques implies that all ties must be mutual which results in the collapse of two cliques in one. In reality, cliques are not mutually exclusive groups, and a member can belong to more than one clique. If, for example, a member of my clique belongs to a dozen other cliques it doesn't increase the number of members in my clique. But I am sure we already belong to each other's passionate group and its subgroup. :)

Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

2 years ago #9

Stimulating post, Lada. 👍 But not sure if Dumbar’s theory can be applied to beBee. Like you I have a small numbet of bees, such as yourself, whose posts I will undoubtedly read and most of whom, in return do likewise. I feel that what limits the expansion of my active contacts is lack of recipricocity and regularity more than anything. If I comment thoughtfully on someone’s buzz (and I do this regularly with newbees) and they don’t respond or acknowledge, or if they never read my posts, then the future relationship is unlikely to progress. Looking beyond SM, Desmond Morris has a great concept in his “The Naked Ape” where he maintains that we haven’t progressed socially beyond the cave and hence are incapable of having meaningful relationships beyond a very small number of persons at any one time. Food for thought?

Franci 🐝Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic, when it comes to my personal network on beBee, I have less than 10 bees that I consider close friends. I follow and comment on posts I enjoy, initially. Additionally, I pursue and comment on posts where I appreciate the author's work. I enjoy the promotion of others and their work, regardless if they are new to beBee. I am energetic about supporting beBee, and it's individuals since I feel it's a great place to compose, share, learn and discuss. Of course, it's not impeccable, but then what social media site is? Regarding other social media, I have a larger personal network on LinkedIn since I've met and worked with a portion of these folks. Additionally, my WordPress network is quite active partially because of my involvement in writing for and volunteering to help with a site other than my own. This requires additional communication via email thus knitting closer relationships. High fives, fist bumps and Happy 2019! So, there you have it.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

2 years ago #7

Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic, to my mind, Dunbar's assertions in this area are typical of "Social Science" -- they are a mixture of scientific research and prejudged (a priori) assumptions. I'd guess that Dunbar's "number" of 150 for the max number of genuine social relationships one person can maintain is probably supported in reality. But the rest of it is, I bet, extrapolated from too small a sample. (How can a sample ever be large enough yet practical to compile?) Okay, so here is my introspective profile: I probably have on social media a dozen or so "close" correspondents whose thought and writings I respect (even if I don't always agree) and so I like and share in an effort to give them the boost I believe they deserve on the whole. But I always try to interact with a wider circle, especially with people who challenge my assumptions, beliefs, and assertions. I believe that it is possible to feel an affinity with a group without needing to be like-minded. I don't need people to bolster my self-view by repeating back to me what I think and believe. One thing I know for sure, Dunbar never studied philosophy in graduate school, where one learns to value disagreement and intellectual jousting as paths to growth. One of the things that has turned me off of beBee is the tendency for self-congratulatory cliques to form. Even to the extent that such cliques have at times turned hostile against those whom they perceive as questioning their "accepted" point of view. But to keep the record straight, I say clearly that your writings and thought are always refreshingly open; and I always look forward to engaging with you. My best wishes for this New Year and beyond. Cheers!

Bill Stankiewicz, 🐝 Brand Ambassador

LADA Rocks!!! Thx for sharing Debasish Majumder

Jerry Fletcher

Jerry Fletcher

2 years ago #5

Lada, Brilliant explication. I'm forced to go delve into Dr. Dunbar's work to provide information for part of an upcoming series of speeches that will make the argument that on-line networking follows the same pattern as in-person and how the same messaging is required. Incidentally, is that a new photo?

Ian Weinberg

Ian Weinberg

2 years ago #4

Honored to have you Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic and the rest of the gang, included in my inner onion. Some take sabbaticals from time to time, but invariably it's just one clique away!

Ian Weinberg

Ian Weinberg

2 years ago #3

Honored to have you Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic and the rest of the gang, included in my inner onion. Some take sabbaticals from time to time, but invariable its one clique away!

CityVP Manjit

CityVP Manjit

2 years ago #2

Last year was my 20th year on the Internet and in particular discussion groups. The clique of 1998 at the Fast Company Discussion Forums led by Heath Row does have a few people who i infrequently see on other platforms but these people are now very distant. The Cluetrain Manifesto group from 2001 as basically fallen away and dispersed though a few names are still recognizable. The clique of 2004 at the Always-On Network is now similar to the Fast Company group, that group also dispersed after this Network like the FC Company of Friends was shut down to a change in strategy. AVC led by Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson - there are a couple of folks that I was close to but today they have flown away from my social orbit. My LinkedIn grouping is holding surprisingly well but that stands to reason because it constitutes people I have worked with before and no longer working with now. The Dunbar number I count is physical connection and when it comes to that I am an absolute hermit, where even family members don't see me for large amount of the time because I am an introverted extrovert but definitely not an extroverted introvert. There are various other groups before beBee that I was involved with and in most cases the underlying platforms are no more, as the business model changed or acquisitions happened so went the virtual social groupings. If this is historic perspective that can be extrapolated, then in the larger view of things the formation and then extinguishing of social groups was a natural evolution, one that if I compare with real life, fits the same pattern of people coming in and people leaving or becoming distant in our social orbit. Being that I am close as being a recluse without actually being one, even if I was gregarious in my social interactions - the net result after 20 years will be the same distribution of connections !

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

Very interesting buzz dear Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic. I enjoyed your analysis of the Dunbars' Number and the clarity of your image. I would say that even tough I have almost 1100 followers, my number is almost like yours. The difference is that my clique changed by the addition of replacement ones. For example, Clau Valerio because she disappeared from social media. There are other examples. All in all, I am in agreement with your analysis. I would add a small hint that I know one member of your clique who is a far possibility to be a member of mine. Does this mean you and I don't qualify as a member of each others' clique? Whatever your answer is I am sure is that at least you fall in my passionate group.

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