Most of Your Facebook Friends Are Fake

woman on her phoneSure, it feels good to tell your Facebook friends about the hilarious costume your toddler wears 24/7, or to share how you powered through a run this morning even though you REALLY didn't feel like getting out of bed. Someone's bound to "like" your update ASAP. But, we've got some harsh news for you about your Facebook connections. Only a handful are REALLY honest-to-goodness friends.


That's right. Whether you've amassed thousands of friends or just a few careful dozen, new research from the University of Oxford suggests that the average person only has 14 REAL friends on the social network.

(And no, one of them is not Mark Zuckerberg.)

In real life, we really do have a limit as to how many close friendships we can legitimately maintain. Besties take work, you know. And after about 14, our brains are just like ... no.

Oxford researchers were curious if online friendships were any different. Without face-to-face constraints, shouldn't we be able to have even more friends?


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And it didn't matter whether participants of the study were 18 or 65, male or female -- they still only had 14 FB connections that could be classified as CLOSE friends. And far less than that -- only FOUR -- whom they felt that they could depend on in a crisis.

These results aren't surprising to Jenny Taitz, Psy.D, a licensed clinical psychologist in New York and California.

"If you had the choice, what would you prefer: 60 Facebook birthday wishes or 5 friends who wanted to take you to a birthday dinner?" she asks.

"To feel a sense of closeness, we need to experience a sense of connection," Taitz explains. "When we're with a person face-to-face, mirror neurons allows us to empathize. Validation, or the experience of feeling seen, heard, and accepted, doesn't take place on social networks. It takes place through an investment of time and vulnerability."

So, should you immediately de-friend all but your fave 14 people on FB? Probably no need to go THAT far. (Although, do you really need to be friends with someone who bullied you in middle school, or with your brother-in-law's cousin's ex-girlfriend? It wouldn't hurt to cull your connections, perhaps.)

Then, from here on out, Taitz suggests, "Use social media to coordinate sharing in person -- not to replace it."



Image via Ammentorp Lund

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