Almost all of your Facebook friends are acquaintances, study finds

By Shawn Knight
Jan 25, 2016
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  1. Facebook clearly isn't the fad that was MySpace. In fact, the social network may very well go down in history alongside the Internet itself as having the most profound impact on our generation - a cultural icon, if you will.

    For all of the "good" that Facebook is credited with (reconnecting old friends, creating romantic relationships, helping families that live in different cities / states / countries stay in touch, helping reunite long-lost family members, etc.), the site is often criticized for harvesting personal data from its members, being an outlet for online bullying and even redefining the term "friend."

    A recent study published in the Royal Society Open Science journal examines Facebook's impact as it relates to friendships, both online and in person.

    In it, British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar analyzed nearly 3,400 Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 65 and found that the average user has roughly 150 Facebook friends. In reality, however, users said their support clique (friends they could depend on for emotional / social support during a crisis) consisted of just 4.1 people while they considered just 13.6 people to be close friends.

    Interestingly enough, the number of close friends and support friends hardly vary at all with age.

    Dunbar concludes that friendships have a natural decay rate in the absence of contact and that social networks may function to slow down the rate of decay. Even still, Dunbar believes social networks alone may not be sufficient to prevent friendships from eventually dying if they aren't occasionally reinforced by face-to-face interaction.

    Permalink to story.

  2. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,604   +411

    All I found was my feed littered with quotes, game invites, linked videos, memes, and people wanting attention. No thanks.

    I can make better use of my time just browsing the net.
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  3. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Maniac Posts: 798   +217

    Was a study really needed for this? I need to find a random and obvious thing to study so I can get money for it. Anyone who has moved away from where they live knows that friendships tend to change and decay without contact, we are a visual and contact based species, what we don't see we don't really think about.
  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,352   +1,945

    I couldn't agree more, I found absolutely no use for FB while I had it, in fact if I signed in 3X a year it was a lot.
  5. AnnaSpirit

    AnnaSpirit TS Rookie

    I am personally among those people who criticize Facebook and other similar networks for online bullying. After my daughter told me that a girl from her class had been bullyied online for half a year and ended up in severe depression, I decided to forbid some networks at all with Pumpic, and monitor her activity on all the others. I asked her how many of her Facebook friends were actually her friends and she said three (out of 156!). She also said she didn't know some of the people there at all. I think parents need to start paying more attention to this matter.
  6. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,433   +473

    Typical "preocupied" parent. Teach her, don't forbid things (That has worked well over the years).

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