25 Years of Facebook Friends

I am turning 25 in 2010, meaning that I have accumulated 25-years worth of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Being in the internet-child age group, a lot of these people are on Facebook.

Today, I came across a person I don’t know who I share seventy mutual friends with on Facebook. SEVENTY. Can you imagine how big a number that is? That’s probably more people than I met in the whole of 2009. Which started me thinking…

(ya lateef :)

How do your real-life networks reflect on your digital networks? In my 25 years of acquaintance accumulation, I have hopped from circle to circle.

My first circle was my family: my parents, my brothers, and a few cousins who are more than just distant family.

My second circle was elementary school, followed third by highschool, and these two circles mix and mingle with the first circle to form a nice fourth family friends circle (I refer to this circle as “Riyadh” in the diagrams below).

Up to this point, 95% of the first four circles of my life are based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Hello, Riyadh people.

Then I turn 18, and I move to Amman, Jordan, and join Jordan University.

My fifth circle is just that- my university friends. My close university friends were all either Saudi-Arabia raised or New-English-school bred, and with that, even my fifth circle sort of my mingles with the first half of my life.

Quickly, I decide that typical Amman people are not really my cup of Pepsi, and I wander into the World Wide Web in search of sweeter flavors. I get involved with the sixth circle, the awesome people I met online, which forms quite a solid mass in my friend plotter. I meet Hala, Lina, and Naseem, who are friends ranging from good-friends to hey-there-acquaintances. I also meet Ahmad, who I now work for (not the one in the illustration below, that’s actually Ahmed), and Ibra, who I now work with.

Through Ahmad and Syntax, my final and seventh circle of my life so far is formed, the Work Circle. Most of the people who are in this circle now are my current closest friends. 

Yes. Facebook actually just allowed me enjoy a very reflective couple of hours on the very nature of my life and the people involved with my life. FREAKEH.

For those with attention spans as short as mine… fret not. I have made good use of Illustrator, probably the best software ever (after Firefox) to explain exactly what I mean:

First, let me explain to you the anatomy of a circle:
25 Years of Facebook Friends: The social circles

Clear so far, right?

Now, let me explain to you the color-coded legend (yay for color coding):

25 Years of Facebook Friends: The social circles

Where do you belong in my 25 years of buddies? :) If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you can add me and you’ll fall in the red circle.

Next, here are the various people representing each circle (color coded) and with a nice number that explains how many mutual friends we have:
25 Years of Facebook Friends: The social circles

Finally, here’s my favorite part, representing how these social circles overlap.

25 Years of Facebook Friends: The social circles

As you can see, my Riyadh highschool friends are as far as could be from my current closest friends (those from work). In reality, they are just as different when it comes to personality and characteristics, likes and dislikes, and even ideologies. Less than 10 years later, I have absolutely nothing in common with 98% of my highschool and family friends from the days of Riyadh.

My family, who I’m very close to obviously, have somethig in common with almost all my friends, and the web people are also quite flexible, though far from my Riyadh friends. Even Ahmed, who lives in Riyadh, has nothing in common with the Riyadh friends.

A lot of my friends are the ones that result from online meetings, which ultimately proves that I should probably live in my parent’s attic and play World of Warcraft all day long. I’m guessing I probably wouldn’t mind :)

But okay. Enough phalsapheh (though I have to admit I enjoy phalsapheh to no end).

Does my theory of social circles apply to you?

31 thoughts on “25 Years of Facebook Friends”

  1. What… attic….. damn….
    Casting “Teleport: Orgrimmar”

    Lol.. Nice theory. You obviously spent a lot of time coming up with it, which imho makes me feel good about playing World of Warcraft in the attic :P

    Good read though, I wonder if I should delve into doing the same.. would be interesting.

  2. Roba with little more work I think you can do a quite interesting PhD in analyzing social networks! You know these days they are performing such kind of analysis in business environment to see which employees playing key roles inside large companies and to re-engineer the flow of information. there are many social networks analysis applications you can look for, but i liked your colors more :p

  3. Great graphical chart, consider a 3D Model and it will look like protein folding *_*

    Mine would be ( divide my age by 3 years lived in 3 different countries equally) a simple figure of scattered dots in 3 spaces (countries), and 2 or 3 non-geometric stains of family and computer related people, touching at the edges where some family members might be a computer geeks.

  4. “ruba..this is very interesting ..i loved the way you analyzed it..it does apply in a way or a another.. i kind of related to it :)”

  5. I love how my circle is huge and is linked to all your circles.
    plus it should include your work friends and web friends! and high school friends! i know everyone ruby!

    my circle should literally have everything around it :P
    and do i know the noor your theory was based on? because shes overlapping me too.

  6. I love how my circle is huge and is linked to all your circles.
    plus it should include your work friends and web friends! and high school friends! i know everyone ruby!

    my circle should literally have everything around it :P
    and which noor is it that your theory was based on? because shes overlapping me too.

  7. A’khal hekita, you should give WoW a shot, MAC OS compatible and 10 days trial is more than enough to make you addicted, as a first dose !

  8. Za3tar, thank you man :) Glad you like it!

    Isam, I’ll take that as a compliment :P

    Omarello, honestly, I have never played WoW, but the ebooks which Mesh sent me were absolutely addictive :) I spent weeks reading those. Please do share with me if you research your own circles!

    Basma, thanks babe!

    Stephen, smile right back at you! :)

    Husams, haha, waaal shu I’d enjoy writing a PhD paper about this :P And yup, Illustrator is often more functional than many kinds of softwares, believe it or not :)

    Mesh, I guess I’m a 2D person :P I don’t think I have any family members who are computer geeks, so there’s no way mine would include that. Your circles sound interesting though!

    Dana, yeah, we basically have had the same life structure you and I :)

    Kinzi, thank you!

    Rama, thank you :)

    Hala, you are important :P

    Hisham, hehe, yeah, bas ma 3reftesh keef awase3ehom bedun ma yenfa3es my nice font! And the Noor is Noor Sawalha.

    Mesh, ahh I’m not even gonna try. I can see myself getting addicted, and thats’ the last thing I need right now!

  9. you are still young to stop your circles. You’ll find, as time goes that your former circles will start wrapping around and join with most recent circles: you will start having “childhood friends”show up in “work”circles/”friends”circles…I believe your circles will eventually make a CIRCLE shape!!

  10. yay very smart!! 7abeit!!
    well..i guess normally kol wa7ad 3ando at least 4 or 5 circles, starting with family (and family frndz, el jeeran el 7arah…etc), ba3dein school, uni or/and work, then el frndz that share same intersets, and el frndz ely ma mne3ref min wein byeeju :P

    i found 2 interesting applications bil facebook that show el links between our frndz, called Friend Wheel and Friend Sets, theyr nice!!

  11. amazing .. where did u find the time to even think of this ??!! not to mention doin’ it xD

  12. damn. 73 friends in common? who are these people?! :-p

    well it goes without saying that you’ve outdone yourself once again with one of the most creative posts i’ve ever seen, and i don’t mean just on the jordanian blogosphere but on the web.

    that said, allow me to join you in the phalsapha.

    we all know the theory of two degrees of separation, and this post got me thinking about it. but your focus was on looking for things in common with each of the people in the different circles, when in reality, everyone of them will likely share at least one single thing in common with you, and with every single friend that they share with you.

    take for instance my case. we share the web in common. i’m a blogger and you’re a blogger. the friends we have in common probably all share that as well. we’re both jordanian bloggers, so the circle grows a bit smaller and tighter. because we operate in that circle, we probably do (or will) evolve to share other circles in common, such as work – given that we know the same people (in that web circle).

    the more we operate in one environment, especially if its a very, very specific environment, then the more likely we will have friends in common, and more importantly, the more likely there’s a chance for more circles to evolve.

    you and hala start as web friends, as bloggers, and you share those people in common. but then you meet and discover your mutual love for shoes, and this automatically draws in more people to the expanding circle. then you become real life friends, and that means your mutual friends are drawn in to that circle. you attend the same events..bigger circle. you run in the same circles…bigger circle. and so forth. the environment grows tighter, the circle expands.

    and then there are those who we don’t know well at all but one big thing in common leads us to a foray of other people who we have only one thing in common. and so forth.

    facebook simple shows us how two degrees of serparation really works in a visual way. it shows us that evolution.

    you’re next project should be about twitter…who follows you > who you follow > who they follow.

  13. Muna, of course :) I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop growing circles, even if I’m a 100. You’re right though, in the end, they’ll probably make a big circle. Come to me for that in 30 years :P

    5o5a, thanks for the applications! I checked them out, and you’re right, they are very nice :)

    Miss Meow, actually, it only took me around 1.5 hours complete with the illustrations and all :P

    Nas, thanks for the compliment :) And you in particular always add a great layer when you share your input. I honestly never thought of this exercise as a reflection of degrees of separation, although you’re quite right. Remember the facebook experiment group with that a few years ago?
    The interesting thing about the web circle that just occurred to me from your comment is what makes it very flexible. We are all brought together by a specific, niche interest, although our lifestyles and interests beyond this niche are very diverse. That pretty much results in overlapping of other circles (reflecting on my previous post “The Seven People You Meet in Amman”.)
    It’s interesting though that this niche is widening, and becoming much less of a niche. Five years ago, ANY blogger was automatically an acquaintance, a person with shared interests. This is now changing.
    The circle is expanding in the sense that there are more people in it, but it’s definitely not staying tight-knit. What do you think?

    Mo, people thought I was older before I got married :) I guess I am just too much of a bullshitter for my age? :)

    Montauk, well, I am the kind of person who thinks the more the merrier when it comes to friends. Are you German? I love arguing with my German friends as to how long you need to know someone to consider them a friend. My idea? Five fricking minutes! :)

  14. Came via Saudi Jeans, love the article, and the illustrations are brilliant! Especially the last one. When I started reading the article I didn’t think anybody could pull that off, but you did :)

  15. By far the most interesting take on the people one meets or gets to know in his/her life.
    Nice use of illustrator. Please tell me u’re at least a hobbyist graphic designer :)

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