Just how strong are your relationships with your friends on Facebook? Are they your best friends? Are they casual acquaintances? Are they family members? Are they strictly friends you have online? More importantly, how many of them are real friends? Would they help you if you were in trouble?
Professor of evolutionary psychology Robin Dunbar wanted to know. Citing a "dramatic revolution in our social world," he wondered if the size of your social media network had any correlation to having more friends in real life.
In his research report titled "Do online social media cut through the constraints that limit the size of offline social networks?," he found that out of a pool of 3,375 people ages 18 to 65, the average amount of Facebook friends is 150. But, out of those 150, only 28, on average, we recognized as genuine friends.
But when participants were asked how many of those friends would help out in a time of need, emotional distress or other crisis, the average answer was 4. Around 14 would at least express sympathy.
So, despite your popularity on Facebook, not as many of your Facebook friends translate into real friends that you can count on. Dunbar, however, offered this advice for people looking to keep their real-life and genuine friends:
"Friendships, in particular, have a natural decay rate in the absence of contact, and 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."