Your Facebook friends aren’t really your friends at all, a new study found.
A researcher at Oxford University conducted a study to find out just how strong the bonds are between Facebook friends and how much this correlates to real-life friendship. The study found that the two are nothing like each other.
The truth about your Facebook friends https://t.co/xN3MGurhsS
— The Independent (@Independent) January 24, 2016
Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, found that the average person has about 150 Facebook friends but only about 14 of those would express sympathy if anything went wrong, the Independent reported.
“Those numbers are mostly similar to how friendships work in real life, the research said,” the report claimed. “But the huge number of supposed friends on a friend list means that people can be tricked into thinking that they might have more close friends.”
He noted that Facebook friends come in different circles, with about five people in a user’s inner circle. These are their closest friends, the ones they’re likely interacting with in real life and not just through a computer. The next level has about 15 people who share something of a close bond, then 50 and 150 different friends in the next groups.
You can only really count on 4 of your 150 Facebook friends, study says” https://t.co/y27TCoFlnp
— Gregory Piatetsky (@kdnuggets) January 23, 2016
“There is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome,” Professor Dunbar wrote. “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.”
That may not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been on Facebook much. The social media site has an incredible ability to bring people together, but in doing so has a tendency to spread plenty of fake-ness as well. This is seen in shallow forwards seeking “likes” for sappy pictures and in the hoaxes that are continuously circulating on the site.
The latest viral hoax was a claim that the site’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was planning on giving away millions of dollars to users who shared a post. As the Mirror noted, the post capitalized off the very real news that Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, would be donating 99 percent of their Facebook shares to further human achievement, creating the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
The fake post claimed that instead Zuckerberg would be giving it away to random users, amounting to about $4.5 million per person.
“Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he is giving away $45 billion of Facebook stock. What you may not have heard is that he plans to give 10% of it away to people like YOU and ME!” the post states. “All you have to do is copy and paste this message into a post IMMEDIATELY. At midnight PST, Facebook will search through the day’s posts and award 1000 people with $4.5 million EACH as a way of saying thank you for making Facebook such a powerful vehicle for connection and philanthropy.”
This is not the first study to hit on the problems with Facebook “friends.” Back in 2013, researchers at the University of Michigan showed that Facebook can actually reduce overall life-satisfaction of its users.
The Daily Mail reported the following.
“The study’s 82 participants were text messaged five times a day over a two-week period with a link to an online survey about their Facebook use, their feelings of well-being and the amount of face-to-face social interaction they had engaged in.
“[Psychologist Ethan Kross] and his team discovered that the more time participants had spent on Facebook, the less happy they felt over time.
‘ ‘The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them; the more they used Facebook over two weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time,’ reports the study.”
So not only are your Facebook friends fake, but they’re making you unhappy. Share this story at your own risk.
[Image via Facebook]