If you’re the type of person who has a relatively small Facebook network, don’t worry about it because according to a study conducted by the Oxford University, it turns out that you can’t count on a good majority of them anyway. In fact according to said study (via CNET), it seems that you can only truly count on 4 out of 150 friends on your social network.
Of course, some of us add people on Facebook as a means of staying in contact, like some people you met overseas during your travels or studies, or that person you bumped into at the party whom you’ve had a good connection with, at least for that night, so we guess it’s not completely a surprise to think that maybe relying on the majority of our Facebook friends for emotional support in times of crisis might be a bit unreasonable.
According to the study, when asked how many “genuine” friends the participants thought they had on Facebook, the average came back as 27.6%. When asked how many could they depend on in times of emotional or social crisis, the number came back as an average of 4.1, with another 14 friends that they would expect to some some kind of sympathy.
Robin Dunbar, the professor of evolutionary psychology who led the research had this to say about maintaining friendships. “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.”