Dunbar's Number and Followers

Posted: August 7, 2022

A while back I used my Instagram bio as a jumping off point for why nitpicking the bible is bad. Now I return for a final sendoff.

No Smiles while Scrolling

Today I want to talk about the negatives of social medias (namely Instagram). Most discussion on the negatives of social media by the members of Heaven Tree focus on the fact that it is closed-source software with evil big tech spyware (and gov't backdoors). The truer problem is that social medias are designed to suck as much of your time away as possible (With 0 regard for detrimental mental health effects). I talked about this a bit in the beginning of the website why article. As seen in documentary films such as the social dilemma, social medias are proven to cause mental illness and contribute to political polarization. As well, no real joy comes from using social media.

The constant layout updates that everyone complains about in Snapchat serve a purpose. Since not everyone gets an update at the same time, allowing for a/b testing of features to continualy makes it more addictive. Do you honestly think that the particular shade of red in a notification is just random? Casino designers, social engineers, and software devs are paid exorbitant sums of money in order to keep you engaged and under their control.

What is the first thing most people do when they realize that they need to cut back on social media? They probably post about it ON SOCIAL MEDIA!.

Dunbar's Number and Followers

There is a concept in anthropology called Dunbar's Number. From wikipedia: "a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships". This number is 150. I have ~300 followers on Instagram. (note: I do not get that many likes) Some friends of mine have similar follower counts to me, while some go signifigantly higher (even into low thousands). Despite being not too far above Dunbar's number, I often encounter circumstances where I cannot recall who a person is that I follow. Sometimes I can't recall why I friended them in the first place. If I have troubles keeping track of everybody than how do those more "popular" than I manage?

With the goal of being able to not worry about quitting Instagram, I looked through my follower list and tried to pick out 10% of my followers that I need to get the phone numbers of. The others will be able to contact me if they follow the website link in my bio. I thought I would have a difficult time whittling it down to 10%; but stopped a few after 20.

Goodbye Instagram

During a good, minimalistic, dumb phone period on vacation, I only received a single Instagram message over 2.5 weeks. It has never been a personal essential and is now superseded by my blog, garden and cat pages. I hated being sucked in for hours at a time; I'm glad it ends now. (I also never really liked my username)

Now that I've sent out messages to those 25 or so people; I'm good to delete it from my phone and change my password to something a little harder to remember. And now I can finally log out.

Here is a stipulation that if I ever log back into instagram, I must make a post explaining why. And this is me admitting to using Instagram since this. I do generally use it mindfully though, but not having the app makes getting "sucked in" a bit harder.