Study finds Facebook 'friends' are no friends at all

Never there when you need them. Image: dan taylor/Flickr.

How many Facebook friends do you have? Several hundred, we wouldn’t doubt. But how many of those ‘friends’ do you consider to be more than casual acquaintances, work colleagues, or old schoolmates you’ve not seen in a decade?

More pointedly, a new study carried out by the Macmillan Cancer Support group has found that, although the average young Facebook user has around 237 friends, a meager few of them can be relied upon for genuine friendship and support.

According to the survey, which was conducted across 1,000 users of the world’s leading social network, two-thirds of those polled between the ages of 18 and 35 claimed to have two or fewer ‘real friends’ on Facebook.

Other points of interest thrown up by the study included that only 25 percent have one real Facebook friend, while one in eight respondents said they didn’t consider any of their ‘friends’ to be close enough to turn to in times of need—such as suffering with cancer.

“It is suprising and concerning that people confide in such a small number of friends and family—and more so that other may not confide in anyone,” commented Elspeth Atkinson of Macmillan Cancer Report regarding the findings.

According to a report in The Mail, not one of a 42-year-old Brighton woman’s 1,048 Facebook friends attempted to help or raise the alarm after she posted her intention to commit suicide. She took her own life on Dec. 25, 2010.

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