The advent of social media has immune people all over the world to connect and reconnect with others, making everything from your mundane cup of coffee to big life events, like weddings and task changes, just a office of the daily update.
At present that your social circle has grown, that must also mean an increase in the number of close friendships you have, right? Wrong.
A written report done by Oxford psychologist Robin Dunbar that was published in The Royal Society Open up Science in January revealed that despite having an average of 150 Facebook friends, nosotros tin really simply rely on four in an “emotional crisis.”
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“This is the circle of intimate friends, or the support group as nosotros have termed it,” professor Dunbar told TODAY. “It is all the people whose shoulders you tin can cry on — i.e. the ones that would come to help you in time of need (existence social or emotional back up, or fiscal or other support).”
For his study, Dunbar analyzed a survey of iii,375 Facebook users in the United Kingdom over the course of two studies that represented an age range of 18 to 65. “The study was actually part of an advertising campaign by a small family baker (Thomas J. Fudge’southward) with the message: Get off the Net and sit with a friend with one of our biscuits,” he told the states. “And I used it as an opportunity to try to run into whether social media permit us to cut through the limits on the number of friends nosotros have offline. Information technology besides gave us a unique opportunity to do a proper big-scale national sample. We used Facebook friends, as everyone knows what that is on their business relationship. They ran two national samples for the states.”
The boilerplate number of Facebook friends came out to 150, but when he asked the participants how many of these virtual friends they could depend on during an emotional crisis, the average number was iv.1. The number of friends whom they would express “sympathy” toward was slight higher at an boilerplate of thirteen.half-dozen.
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These findings actually shed a positive light on social media co-ordinate to Dunbar. “We were pleased rather than surprised,” he said. “We have skillful reason to call up that the number of friends is limited in this way, and information technology was comforting to find that a large scale national sample confirmed this.” In other words, our shut-knit group of friends is inherently pocket-size, and that’southward something reflected on social media as well.
“All are previous evidence to support it comes from minor studies of 100-200 people, often self-selecting volunteers or people from a very express subculture,” said Dunbar.
In fact, these large networks tin help to keep relationships alive. “Social media is good for keeping upward with friends, and so preventing the inexorable refuse in relationship quality that happens when you can no longer meet someone,” said Dunbar. “Just we think that in the end you need to meet them face-to-face at least occasionally: otherwise, zip on earth will prevent a friendship deteriorating and eventually becoming ‘merely an acquaintance I once knew.'”
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Ginnie Love, author, psychotherapist and relationship expert, agrees. “For the balanced emotionally salubrious developed, social media is a convenient way to stay connected to friends and family unit from across the country, and globe. Information technology is also an incredible networking tool,” she said. “Where social media hurts close relationships, of varying types, is rooted in the individual, the health of their current ‘real life’ relationships and the ease of contact via online that can be superficial and provide instant gratification. It is extremely like shooting fish in a barrel to simply prove the parts of ourselves we desire others to see and that does not embrace the entirety of who we are.”
Dearest added, “Maintaining close human relationship is a dance of many components including honest communication, showing dedication and value to 1 another through making spending time together a priority, and expressions of gratitude.
“Strong, reliable, intimate connection not only feels expert but tin can assistance usa alive longer, healthier lives. “