Can Social Networking Change the Human Brain

Consider, for example, the fact that the size of military units has not changed materially in thousands of years, even though our communication technology (from signal fires to telegraphy to radio to radar) has. The basic unit in the Roman army (the “maniple”) was composed of 120-130 men, and the size of the analogous unit in modern armies (the company) is still about the same.

The fact that effective human group size has not changed very substantially — even though communication technology has — suggests that it is not the technology that is crucial to our performance. Rather, the crucial factor is the ability of the human mind to track social relationships, to form mental rosters that identify who is who, and to form mental maps that track who is connected to whom and how strong or weak, or cooperative or adversarial, those relationships are. I do not think that the Internet has changed the ability of my brain to do this. While we may use the word “friends” to refer to all our contacts online, they are decidedly not our friends, in the truly social, emotional, or biological sense of the word.


While we may have hundreds of friends on social network sites, the human brain is only capable of handling a smaller social network.

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Brain (0.951310): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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Mind (0.896352): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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 Meet the New Brain, Same as the Old Brain
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Christakis, Nicholas A. (January, 2010), Meet the New Brain, Same as the Old Brain, Edge Foundation, Inc., Retrieved on 2010-10-01
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: internet technology society