How many Facebook friends do you have? If your answer is more than a hundred, or even more than a thousand, can you actually count how many of those you interact with on a meaningful basis every day? Chances are, it will be less than 97%, based on a new study by Robin Dunbar, which focuses on people’s Facebook relationships. So basically, that’s 97% that do not care about you, if you look at it pessimistically.
Dunbar is the one who previously came up with Dunbar’s Number, or the idea that each human being can only maintain 150 stable relationships at the same time. This time around, he analyzed the way people interacted with each other on the social network, with over 3,400 Facebook users as part of the study. His conclusion is that only 4.1 of those friends will voluntarily help you during times of crisis and only 13.6 will actually express any form of sympathy.
The average person has around 155.2 Facebook friends, the study shows. So that means just 3% of those actually care about what happens to you, if you actually post about your troubles or if they know about your problems in real life. While this shouldn’t be surprising for most people, given the various articles before saying that online friendships may not be real friendships, some may be shocked that 97% of those who read their posts (if they do actually read) probably don’t care.
So what was the point of the study, aside from making us more depressed that we may not have that many actual friends? It’s to point out that just liking a status, or posting an annual birthday greeting on someone’s wall, is not enough to build on an actual friendship. This is probably something most of us already know, but in case you forgot, this study is sure to remind you of that.