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Facebook is radioactive, final state may be a Foebook!

November 17, 2013

Radioactivity is defined as the phenomenon of spontaneous emission of radiation, either directly from unstable atomic nuclei or as a consequence of a nuclear reaction[1]. If we look at Facebook we start very enthusiastically with a good number of friends and it grows very fast to its peak. It is commonly in the few 100s for most people. Some people have over 1000 friends, but that’s really diluted level of friendship I guess, as they go on some kind of an open freak streak[2]!

There is a honeymoon period, when you acquire your long lost childhood or school or college friends. And feel very happy reconnecting with them. You may have a long chat session with someone as soon as you connect. Or an actual phone call with another friend. Or just some photo like exchange with yet another. Or just a quiet connection with somebody else.

But gradually the honeymoon ends, and discovery phase begins. And we form opinions based on the likings, comments and postings of our friends. And begin to actually understand them as they are now. After so much of water, in the in-between years, has flown through the holy ganges!

Eventually normalcy and mundaneness returns. And it boils down to common areas of discussions. And not surprisingly, we all find, only a very few in our friends list who share the same interests and frequency as ours.

At the same time, there may be a lot others, whose postings may actually annoy or irritate you for various reasons. Reasons could be any from a friend, having an opposing view on a topic as yours, harping about his/her views continuously  To someone utterly thrilled to share the most inane jokes or chicken-soup-of-the soul boxes. And note these are just examples. Somebody may get irritated with meta-notes like this one. So it sort of balances out.

So coming to the topic. You start with say some 250 friends. And reach a much lower state eventually. Could be 220 for one. Could be 150 for another. But even the most amiable people are bound to lose a few.

Switching gears to radioactivity, 250 is a very high number on the atomic number scale, and highly radioactive. A much lower atomic number is actually stable.

Corresponding it back to Facebook, we will have some lower number of friends, which is pretty stable for us for some time at least. Or at least which has a greater half-life of radioactive decay.

In radioactivity, there is something known as half life, which basically means by what time the amount of atomic substance will be reduced to half in some other form, after having emitted radiations[3].

So philosophically, why does the decay happen in Facebook friendship?

I think, its just the way life is. Every good thing comes to an end, in the best case its life long. But an average friendship has to be much shorter. And it can’t stand the test of too much interaction.

A loose correlation back to radioactivity: More interaction could lead to higher radioactivity in some cases.

This is of course just an analogy, and hence a cheaper substitute for reality. But still I think it conveys the idea and the risk that the worst possible state for an individual is Facebook turning into Foebook. That is from 250 odd friends to 250 odd enemies!

Of course the above is an extreme scenario. And for most real people, who apply some thought to manage their Facebook friendships, it will turn out to be much better. For example: starting from 250 odd friends to some 20/30 odd friends… and 20/30 odd enemies (meaning either you or they have unfriended)… note unfriending is equivalent of one atomic number less via radiation. And radiation are like your posts!

So which gets us to one tip: Lower the radiation i.e. less activity, which leads to less radioactivity i.e unfriending.

The final state of it being a Foebook, is like a worst case scenario. Its better to take a in between break from Facebook, when you suspect you are getting close it.

Just my musings.

[1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/radioactivity
[2] open freak streak – just a random phrase which came to my mind, which describes that phenomenon…
[3] http://www.iem-inc.com/prhlfr.html

Extra notes:
1) And yes, it applies to other friending oriented social networks. Google+ can radioactivate to Google-.
2) Twitter is a bit different as it is not friending in the normal sense. But keeps shifting between celebrity stalking to just trying to trend a topic e.g. a political term like ‘Namo’ or ‘Saheb’ which is trending today.

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