Technology has not only changed the world in which we live, but over the past ten years it has also had a profound impact on our personal lives. Facebook allows us to effortlessly keep in touch with friends throughout the years, smart phones allow us to stay connected at all times, Twitter allows us to broadcast our thoughts to the entire world, and Foursquare allows us to know where our friends are at all times.

But for all the changes and all the enhancements that technology has provided – there are still some things that technology has not been able to do. Despite allowing us to declare 1,000 friends on Facebook, technology still can’t help us remember a name when we actually run into one of our friends on the street. Technology allows for more communication – but is the communication really as meaningful? There is a compelling argument called Dunbar’s number that states humans are only capable of having up to 150 meaningful relationships at one time (if this is the first you’re hearing of Dunbar’s number, I suggest you check out this article about monkeys – – thanks to @rana05 for tweeting this).

Perhaps someday technology will find a solution for our limited capacity to maintain a large number of deep relationships – but would this necessarily be a good thing? Are there any things that technology should never be allowed to do (even if it could)? In recent years it has become socially acceptable to rely on cell phones to remember the phone numbers of your close relationships, and even more recent, it’s also now acceptable to rely on Facebook for birthday reminders. Maybe these two examples are just the beginning. In the future it may be common practice to rely on technology to remember where our friends work, who they’re dating – maybe even their names?

If technology does incrementally continue replace person to person contact and allow us to rack up an even greater number of contacts – will we still be able to call these people our friends?

Perhaps in 20 years we will look back at the 00’s and the 10’s as years when we tried to replace real friendship with a Facebook news feed.

The Limits of Technology and Virtual Friends