Facebook friend collectors 'are normal'
Facebook "dribble" explains obessive addiction to site
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Monday, 30, Mar 2009 07:21
It's ok to be friends with people you don't know very well on Facebook a sociologist has said so.
Nancy Baym, of the University of Kansas, has been looking at the way interpersonal relationships develop through social networking sites. Her research may come as a relief to those who fear their use of sites like MySpace and Twitter resembles an addiction.
"You can ask somebody, 'Of your 300 Facebook friends how many are actually friends?' and people will say, 'Oh, 30 or 40 or 50,'" Professor Baym said.
"But what having a lot of weak-tie relationships is giving you access to are a lot of resources that you wouldn't otherwise have."
She argued because people tend to "cluster" in relationships with people of similar interests having weak ties provides access to information and experience they would not otherwise be exposed to.
"They can really open up access to resources that we wouldn't have otherwise," she added.
Prof Baym is staggered by the huge popularity the sites have, with some users visiting them several times a day.
"Different people have different reasons for compulsive Facebook use," she continued.
"But I think it comes down to the fact that there's a continuous dribble there's always something new so every time you go something has changed; somebody has updated their status; someone has sent you a request; someone has posted an item.
"So it's a continuous link of hanging out in the halls with your friends between classes or hanging around the water cooler at the office."