Here’s How Many Of Your Facebook Friends You Can Actually Rely On

Time For A Cull, perhaps?


by Eve Simmons |
Published on

It’s a commonly asked question (usually by your mum), but when you really think about it, the answer is pretty depressing. How many of your Facebook friends are your actual friends? I mean, actual, real friends who you could call on if you needed someone to literally wipe your arse. Or maybe just borrow a tenner.

If you’re anything like the participants in Professor Robin Dunbar’s study, then you can probably count them two hands. The Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Oxford University studied the Facebook ‘friends’ of 3,375 people, aged 18-65 and examined their relationships with their social media circle.

Professor Robin’s sample were a little low on the old Facebook pals, with an average of just 150 friends. When asked how many of their friends were ‘genuine’, the Facebook users answered ambitiously - 27.6 per-cent, they reckoned.

Wrong. When pressed further and asked details about potential crisis situations or times of emotional difficulty, the Facebookers floundered. As more questions were asked, the cull got even more cut-throat, leaving a grand total of… four. Yep, only four, out of every 150, of your Facebook friends would actually be useful in a cleaning up your sick situation.

In fact, the number of Facebook friends you have makes absolutely no difference to your real-life popularity. Even participants with more than 500 Facebook friends had no more than 4/150 real pals.

According to Dunbar: 'Respondents who had unusually large networks did not increase the numbers of close friends.' All that’s achieved by having a shit tonne of Facebook friends is a bunch of 'loosely defined acquaintances' - and that’s no help when you get your tampon stuck.

The professor does give Facebook some credit, acknowledging social media’s use for 'preventing friendships decaying over time' and no-one wants gross, rotting mates, tbf.

But be weary, Facebook may polish up your pals and maybe even give you another few months use out of them, but you can’t polish a turd, remember?!

As the Prof says:

'Social media may well function to slow down the rate of decay. However, that alone may not be sufficient to prevent friendships eventually dying naturally if they are not occasionally reinforced by face-to-face interaction'.

At least this means that popular dickhead from school is just as lonely as you are…

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Follow Eve On Twitter: @EvieSimm

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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