Did Social Networking Make You Gain Real, Close Friends?

By @Len_IBTimes on

A U.S. study found that Americans have an average of two close friends each, while those who reported zero close friends did not increase in number as scientists had expected. This is how the figures were reported in America, where one of the longest-running sitcoms is about the close friendship of a gang of six people - NBC's "Friends."

With the number of "friends" one usually interacts with on the Internet, a question on the number of close friends could have made respondents pause to ponder the subject at hand and take time to separate the online friends from those with whom they can share their deepest thoughts and feelings.

Twenty-five years ago, Americans reported having an average of three friends, the same study said. The question that comes with the drop in this number is: How many close friends should one have?

Matthew Brashears, assistant professor of sociology at Cornell University, said Americans are "not as socially isolated as scholars had feared." This means the number of those who reported having zero close friend and the average of two close friends for most people are not bad when taken together to see the social picture of a nation.

However, the shrinking social network, which is ironic in the age of social accessibility, "makes us potentially more vulnerable," Brashears said.

LiveScience reported Brashears had over 2,000 adult respondents, who are at least 18 years old, from the nationally representative Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS) program. The Internet surveys were conducted between April 23 and May 5, 2010.

To define "close friends," participants were asked to list the names of people with whom they had discussed "important matters" over the past six months. About 48 per cent of participants listed one name, 18 per cent listed two, and roughly 29 per cent listed more than two names for these close friends. On average, participants had 2.03 confidantes, and just over four percent of participants didn't list any names, as summarized by Live Science.

Brashears said having two close friends is not a lonely scenario. Americans may just be more discerning when it comes to sharing important matters with other people. The general picture also shows that "we're not becoming less social," according to him.

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