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You Can Only Rely On 4 Of Your Facebook Friends

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Photographed by Rockie Nolan
Facebook is a veritable cyber-graveyard for friendships-past.

Of your supposed 1000 friends on the social networking site, it’s a given that you’d walk eyes-to-the-floor past most of these people IRL, because, well, they’re not really your mates are they? We hang on to them for all sorts of reasons; whether we’re monitoring the amounts of engagement announcements from girls we went to school with, or simply curious about what that ex who's now living abroad is up to, there are myriad reasons why we all let a surplus of friends-that-once-were collect like dust on our profiles.

To cull or not to cull, that is the question. It became fashionable last year to ‘cull’ your feed but who in God’s name has the time? Plus, there’s simply nothing more shaming than searching a name only to realise you, in fact, have been cut. The culler has become the culled.

No surprises, then, that new data released proves that we don’t really know or care for most of the people we call ‘friends’ on Facebook. Oxford University researchers said the idea that people have thousands of internet friends is an urban myth. In fact, the average Facebook user has around 150 genuine relationships. The research, from Robin Dunbar, a well-known evolutionary biologist, who examined 3,500 Britons, concluded that in reality, you can only rely on about four of your social media pals in a time of crisis. Yikes.

Dunbar explained: 'The fact that people do not seem to use social media to increase the size of their social circle suggests that social media may function mainly to prevent friendships decaying over time, in the absence of opportunities for face to face contact. But no amount of social media will prevent a friend eventually becoming 'just another acquaintance' if you don't meet face-to-face from time to time. Seeing the white of their eyes from time to time seems to be crucial to the way we maintain friendships.’ Amen to that.
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