Friday, January 29, 2016

All the new Barbies.

I have nothing to say about this.

You only have four real friends. Get used to it

You Only Have Four Real Friends on Facebook, Study Says

Everyone else on the social media site is just someone you're connected to

Facebook friends are almost never real friends, a new study suggests.
By Rachel DickerJan. 29, 2016, at 12:38 p.m.+ More

Facebook makes users feel both connected and isolated.

There are plenty of well-wishers when your birthday comes around, but how many of those people would you call to hang out with you?

According to a study from Oxford University, "There is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome."

In other words: Your brain can't handle too many friends. In fact, the average person has about four real ones, regardless of the number listed on their profile.

To reach this conclusion, R.I.M. Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford and author of the study, examined a sample of 3,375 people in the United Kingdom ages 18 to 65. Some used social media regularly, while others did not.

The participants who used social media were asked how many Facebook friends they could depend on during an emotional or social crisis, and the average response – which barely varied between age groups – was four. The average study participant, however, had 150 Facebook friends.

That's a 2.7 percent rate of true friendship.

Further, "The data show that the size and range of online egocentric social networks, indexed as the number of Facebook friends, is similar to that of offline face-to-face networks," Dunbar writes in the study.

Translation: People who use Facebook have, on average, the same number of friends as those who don't.

So maybe we ought to make more calls and pay more visits to the people we love – there aren't that many, after all.

Rachel Dicker is an Associate Editor, Social Media at U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at

BLOGGER'S BLAH. Yes, I have long suspected this. In the past little while, two different Facebook "friends" were fussing and fuming at all these pesky friend requests they kept getting. Didn't they know they were nearing the 5000-friend limit and needed to keep those precious few spaces open so THEY could hand-pick the remaining people ("supporters")?

Several times I've seen the advice to go through those five thousand friends carefully and weed out dead people or those with inactive accounts (i. e., few or no friends, which amounts to the same thing). A "friend" is of no use unless they, in turn, have a lot of friends. I even saw a rant - a real one, not a parody, though it was almost unbelievable - saying that all these dead people were making it difficult for her to keep an accurate count on her total. The nerve of those people! On their deathbed, rattling out their last, they should be legally required to gasp to their nearest and dearest: "Please. . . close. . . Face. . . book. . . acc. . .acc. . . cckkkkkkk. . ." (dies).

So do I have four "real" friends on Facebook? There are people I used to be close friends with - even very close friends, but drift does happen, even if you still care about them. But who would be there in a crisis? The one person who immediately comes to mind is in a health crisis of his own, a major one, to the point that I often wonder if he has died and I just haven't found out about it yet. But he'd be there for me emotionally, I know this beyond question, just as I try to be there for him, simply because we love each other. He has proven his loyalty for the past 25 years, but the rest? I'm not so sure. I think if I were in a really bad way, most of them would just disappear into the woodwork. It has happened before.

So I have a ways to go until I hit that magical 5000 mark. Until then, just keep those friend requests coming.

  Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!

My Vancouver dream home: only 2.4 million!

This Vancouver dream home could be yours for only $2.4 million

January 29, 2016. 8:58 am • Section: Real Estate

Posted by:
Peter Darbyshire

Vancouverites greeted the new year with the news that most homes in the city now cost $1 million or more — plus, your firstborn child. Just kidding — no one can afford to raise children in Vancouver anymore. In fact, $1 million may be on the low end — one-third of Vancouver homes are valued at more than $2 million.

How do you like being a world-class city now, Vancouver?

Hey, at least the transit runs on time — ah, never mind.

But there are still bargains to be found in the region’s crazy housing market. Take, for example, the charming fixer-upper that just went on sale in Vancouver’s prestigious Point Grey neighbourhood for a measly $2.4 million.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house at 4453 West 14th Avenue was built in 1930 and currently has a self-contained basement suite. It has a mountain view and is within walking distance to Lord Byng Secondary, Jules Quesnel, Queen Elizabeth Elementary, West Point Grey Academy and much more. Although, if you can afford $2.4 million for a home, you’re probably taking a helicopter wherever you need to go anyway.

Photos of the home show it’s in need of some work. Paint appears to be peeling in places throughout the house, and the yard appears to be transforming into some sort of Avatar-like jungle. It does have an eco-friendly green roof, though! We’re sure the new owners will lovingly and carefully restore this house to its former glory.

There will be an open house Tuesday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m.-noon if you want to check it out in person. In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for touring the photo gallery to imagine yourself living here.

This post from today's Province newspaper gave me pause. It gave me pause because we could probably now sell our back yard tool shed for at least a cool million. Who says our ship will never come in?

Every day I am grateful for our modest, if unprepossessing home in Port Coquitlam - and even out here, condos are springing up out of the ground and spreading like a malignancy. They're ugly, identical, squashed-together, have no character, and are also tall and skinny, each room on its own floor, to save land. And there are no yards of any kind. Yards are becoming a luxury and will soon disappear. Some newer neighborhoods have houses that are smack-dab up against the road, without even a curb to divide them. I see no green space, no parks, no place at all to take your kids to run around and look at a tree: they simply have to do without that luxury, so they sit and play games on their ipods.

This is no way to live. We're settled here, our family is here (and thank God our kids also have comfortable homes, with my daughter even living in out-of-the-question North Vancouver - having settled there fifteen years ago when things were different). But the other horrendous problem is unemployment. It's the one-two punch: you cannot afford to be laid off if you're trying to pay off one of these babies. And it's happening all the time.

  Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!

Do I write too much?

Never write about writing. Never blog about blogging. You'll break your heart, or start to wonder who is reading this.

This whole thing is a vanity project, though it began as a way to try to promote my book (ha-ha). I don't think I would have thought of blogging on my own, and barely even knew what a blog was when I began in 2011 or so (or maybe it was 2010? An embryonic blog in OpenSalon was a total bust, ending in utter humiliation). 

The worst thing a writer can do, ever, is worry about how something will be received, or not received. Don't just write what you know - write whatever the fxxx you want!  But in the wonderful wasteland of the internet, likes and comments and hits and "going viral" count for everything, and creativity, originality and joy soon wither away.

So you just keep putting the stuff out there, because you love doing it. It's a form of play. You're never going to see money, and you're never going to see fame, though it often seems that all your Facebook friends are cleaning up at the box office and you're not.

I had four longtime followers bail on me in a 24-hour period the other day. That has never happened to me before. Generally, the direction is upward - in fact, it was for years, though the total was never very high. That wasn't the point. The point was  that there was movement.

I guess there still is,  just in the wrong direction. I don't know why, but I have hazarded a guess: I wrote a piece - a very heavy piece, and against all my usual principles I put it back in draft ( I refuse to delete it, and plan to put it back up again when world events catch up with me). It was pretty gloomy, and in fact doomy, but I do see signs that we, as a culture, are indeed slouching towards Bethlehem. I said so. And four people left, all at once, probably for good. Was that the reason?

I'm pretty old, and I don't keep up and don't particularly want to, but I've found a level of creative play on this thing, and on the internet in general, that I genuinely enjoy. Recent alarming health concerns have honestly made me wonder if I'll still be around in a year. It occurs to me almost daily. My body seems to be melting away as I sit here, and I can feel all my bones. Which is why the need to do what I want, without thought of consequence, is even more pressing.

So I make my George Gershwin Blingees, in the full knowledge that 90% of people will find them damn stupid, if they find them at all. But to me, it's a magic trick, finger-painting with light, and fun.

And you've got to have as much of it as you can. While there's still time.

  Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!