In this post, we find out who my most typical Facebook friend is, statistically speaking.
In Part 1, we saw how privileged and not representational my Facebook friends (and all Facebookians) are. But surely for someone who has lived on 3 continents, involved with a broad international community, my Facebook friends represent a good cross-section of the world in other regards. Let’s see.
In the global village of 100, men and women constitute 50 each. In my village, 60.5% are women and 39.5% are men. That’s quite a dramatic difference. I think the main reason for this is because of my involvement in dance, a field overwhelmingly filled with women. As far as I’m concerned, the more women in my life the better.
I couldn’t find a good source for global age distribution. They lump people in three groups: under 15, 15 to 65, and over 65. Not terribly useful I’m afraid, since every one of my Facebook friends are in that 15 to 65 range.
The vast majority, nearly 60% of my Facebook village is 30 to 39. This makes sense since I’m in my 30’s too. To compare that with the US, people aged 20 to 44, a much broader range, make up only 37% of the population.
This is followed by nearly an equal number of people in their 20s (13.2%) and in their 40s (16.2%). I was surprised by this. I thought my village would be more evenly distributed among these three age groups. I especially thought the 20’s would be much more represented since that’s the age that’s savviest with social networking sites.
Teens, another internet savvy group, make up only 4.8%. They are mostly kids of my friends. And there was a sprinkling of friends in their 50s (1.8%). In the real world I have a lot more friends who are 50 and older, but most of them do not frequent Internetland. And good for them.
I’ve got friends who are citizens of 35 countries. That’s a pretty good variety of nations. But most of those countries are only represented by 1 friend, so it’s not as diverse as it sounds.
Here’s what the global village of 100 looks like:
- 61 villagers are citizens of Asian countries (of that, 20 are Chinese and 17 are Indian).
- 13 are African.
- 12 are European.
- 5 are South American.
- 8 are North American (5 from the US).
- 1 of the villagers is from Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.
How does my Facebook village compare?
My Facebook village is skewed towards North Americans (64.9%), Europeans (14.9%) and Asians (11.4%). It makes sense since those are the continents that I’ve lived in. The two most populous countries are barely represented in my village; I can count my Chinese and Indian friends on one hand. It’s important to note that this doesn’t include ethnicity, only citizenship. I’ll get to race and ethnicity in Part 3.
Each of those continental figures are further skewed to single countries: the US (62.7%), Japan (8.8%) and the UK (6.6%). The heavy US representation is because I’m American and have spent most of my life there. I’m surprised the figures for Japan and the UK aren’t bigger. The low figure for Japan can be explained because most of my Japanese friends use Mixi, the predominant social networking site in Japan. And while I lived in the UK, my university community was very international.
Most surprisingly, even though I’m ethnically Korean and still have relatives in Korea, I have no Facebook friends who are citizens of Korea. Do most Koreans use another social networking site?
Australians and New Zealanders in my village number more than 3 times the global average, at just over 3%.
South Americans are a mere 2.6%. Africans are a paltry 2.2%. I have quite a few more friends from these continents in real life, but they are not on Facebook.
A Side Story
Just to illustrate how difficult it is to get on Facebook (and on the internet), let me tell you a story. One of my fellow graduate students in the UK was a soft-spoken Sudanese man. Near the end of our program, a week before he returned to Sudan, I took a group shot of our class and he asked me for a copy of the picture. I told him I’d email it to everyone as an attachment.
He explained that it was difficult to get on the internet and check his email in Sudan. And even then, there would be no guarantee that the computer would be attached to a printer, much less a color printer that could print photos. I couldn’t fathom this situation and since he told me this with his usual big smile I thought he was just teasing me.
A day before he left, he told me again his situation but with more of an air of desperation. I took him more seriously this time and we went to a print shop and we got the photo developed then and there.
He was not some poor herdsman. He was a graduate student studying in the UK, so he had some means. Yet even he had difficulties getting online.
All Around the Pacific Rim
Even though there are 8.8% citizens from Asian countries, 21.9% of my friends live in Asia. Almost all of these are expats living in Tokyo, the city most called home among my friends.
An overwhelming number of my friends (54.8%) live in North America. Still, compared to the 62.7% of people who are US citizens, this suggests that quite a few live outside the continent. Within the US, my Facebook friends are clustered along the West Coast. Almost 25% live in Oregon. And at least another 10% are in California.
I don’t know where all of my friends live, so these figures are probably much higher. If you add up all my friends who live in Seattle and Vancouver, I’d estimate that more than 45% of my Facebook village is on the West Coast of North America. That means at least 65% live on the North Pacific Rim.
In the global village of 100, 10 are gay, lesbian or bisexual. In my Facebook village, they represent 8%. But I don’t know the sexual orientation of all my friends. So that means only 8% are out, that I know of. I’m certain this number is much, much higher. Come out, come out, wherever you are!
University of Facebook
I run with a highly educated crowd. Almost 23% of my Facebook friends have MAs. And 7% have, or are working on, their PhDs. That’s remarkable. That’s nearly a third with post-graduate degrees. And that only includes the ones that I know of. These numbers are high because most of them were my classmates in graduate school.
They outnumber all the people that I’d met from elementary school through college (17%).
Not to be outdone by the academics, people who I’ve met in the dance field make up 14% of my friends. I didn’t add up all the musicians and visual artists, but I’m sure they make up significant groups too.
The most common woman’s name is some variation of Anne. The most common man’s name is, not surprisingly, some form of John, with David, Eric and James close behind. There was no significantly common surname, but there were quite a few with variations of Wood.
There are many cool names. But the coolest has got to be Aejaz Zahid. Aejaz is actually also a very cool person.
The Archetypal Friend
Now that we have a fairly complete picture of my Facebook community, we can identify my typical friend. Let’s call her Wind’s Archetypal Friend.
She is an American woman in her 30s, named Anne Wood, living on the West Coast of the United States, probably Oregon. She is highly educated and is involved in the arts, most likely dance. She also has a tendency to befriend handsome intelligent talented men who reduce her down to a set of statistics.
And that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about my Facebook village. Next, in Part 3, I delve into the most controversial of all categories of identity, race.