Are Facebook Friends Real? No

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While we may have a lot of Facebook friends, we probably do not know most of our online connections well.

The average Facebook user has more than 100 friends on the social media site. A new study of the site’s users at England's Oxford University revealed that the level of social interaction between Facebook friends is generally low, reports The Independent.

Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychology professor at Oxford University, did not find much of an association between users being Facebook friends and regularly interacting. 

While the average user in the study had roughly 150 Facebook friends, only 14 friends on average expressed sympathy towards the user.

“There is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome,” Dunbar wrote in his report. 

“In practical terms, it may reflect the fact that real (as opposed to casual) relationships require at least occasional face-to-face interaction to maintain them.”

“Friendships, in particular, have a natural decay rate in the absence of contact, and social media may well function to slow 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.”

The integrity of Facebook friendships was also studied by photographer Tanja Hollander, who set out to photograph all of her 600 Facebook friends from 2010-15, reports Newsweek.  

Ninety-five percent of the photographer’s Facebook friends reportedly invited Hollander into their homes, and roughly 75 percent offered her food and a room for the night. Hollander had never met many of her Facebook friends before arriving at their doorsteps.

“This project is an exploration of friendships, the effects of social networks, the intimate places we call home and the communities in which we live,” Hollander wrote on her blog. 

“I have learned about human kindness and compassion. I continue to be surprised by the number of people, especially the (real-life) total strangers, who have opened their homes to me -- offering me a place to stay, sharing their lives, their stories and their families while allowing me to document it all.”

Sources: The Independent, Newsweek / Photo credit: Facebook Logo

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