Study: Humans have fewer friends than ever

Real friends are dreadfully passé now that we’ve got social media.

Who needs friends when you've got pets and nigh-unlimited wilderness?

Who needs friends when you've got pets and a penchant for protesting alone in the wilderness? (AP Photo)

Perhaps that’s the takeaway of two studies that says humans have fewer friends than ever, but are recouping lost emotional support by visiting Facebook.

ABC News reports on a Cornell study that says the number of “real” friends a person has has dropped from a whopping three all the way down to two since 1985.

A “real friend,” according to ABC, is someone who will “help us out in tough times, listen sympathetically no matter what, lend us money or give us a place to stay if we needed it, keep a secret if we shared one.”

Sounds a lot like grandpa!

The study quizzed 2,000 adults, asking them how many people they’d shared “important matters,” like who will be the Braves starting shortstop in 2012, during the past six months.

Sadly, 4 percent of those polled took the Simon & Garfunkel “I am an island” route and said zero. Forty-eight percent listed one close friend, 18 percent listed two and 29 percent listed more.

Social media is helping humans stay connected, however, says a Pew Research Center report. In fact, an active Facebook account is “equivalent to about half the boost in [emotional] support you get from being married,” says researcher Keith Hampton, who probably has some ’splaining to do after his wife reads this.

Despite the Pew paper, it’s important to remember that Facebook can’t pony up bail at 3 a.m. Only real friends can do that. Feel free to share that bit of wisdom with the 30 percent of young people that believe the Internet is more important than air and water.

32 comments Add your comment

Alejandrisha

November 8th, 2011
8:39 pm

“Sounds a lot like grandpa!”

Except for the money part it sounds a lot like my cats, too. Human friends are overrated, but a good cat or dog will never let you down.

Obama Baby Momma

November 8th, 2011
9:38 pm

As long as I gots me a big butt and and a welfare check, I gots me lots of friends. Wish this herpe would go away.

Anon

November 9th, 2011
3:47 am

Wait, you’re reporting on a report on a report?

Impressive.

Ivory

November 9th, 2011
7:34 am

Strange; where are my two?

Ozzy

November 9th, 2011
7:42 am

I had one until I lent him money. Then I had to let him go too.

shaggy

November 9th, 2011
7:44 am

What a stupid pseudo-study. I have very dear friends, some that I have had since early childhood, and our friendship is certainly not about, “hey man, can I borrow some money, buddy, pal, friend, chum,…” In fact, that is what drives friends apart.
Our friendship is based on shared interests, experiences, and the ability to disagree, argue even, but in the end we respect one another.

The social media morons deserve the cyber friends they get, because no one wanted to hang with their true, duplitious, and boring persona in the first place.

Roekest

November 9th, 2011
9:00 am

And then you have people like Alejandrisha…cat-people. They are in a class all by themselves.

peetie weetie

November 9th, 2011
9:18 am

I am still friends with people that I went to elementary and high school with. I don’t think that the study included me because I have to sometimes makes excuses to get some me time. All of the social networks are wonderful however there is no substitute for human interaction.

Tychus Findlay

November 9th, 2011
9:38 am

You don’t lend a friend money, you give it to them unconditionally. A friend will pay you back if and when they’re able of their own volition.

South Georgia Farmer

November 9th, 2011
10:04 am

OBM, you’re stuck in the Amos and Andy era with your pizz poor immitation of blacks in the hood.

Rob

November 9th, 2011
10:13 am

Maybe people doing this study should watch the episode last week from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is called “The Anti-Social Network.” It’s a funny way of showing how social skills have degraded because of social media.

Also, about this survey. I think another implication may be because people are less trusting of the people around them. With all the crap people have no qualms about saying and doing to strangers (i.e. flicking the bird, stealing from their pocket, being rude and unfriendly, etc.), I’m not surprised at the results of this survey. It’s like if someone cuts you off in the grocery aisle and won’t even acknowledge your presence and say excuse me. What happened to manners and common courtesy??

Mark Richt

November 9th, 2011
10:25 am

How bout them dawgs?

Ozzy

November 9th, 2011
10:37 am

Heisenberg

November 9th, 2011
10:42 am

A friend is someone you call at 3AM to come get you out of jail. But a best friend is sitting there next to you.

MadMax

November 9th, 2011
10:49 am

Seems like over the last thirty years, more and more people are users of people & when you stop allowing them to be users, the friendship is over. Very few people really and truly have a real friend.

Life's Journey

November 9th, 2011
10:56 am

I guess I’m the exception to this rule….I have so many friends, I can’t keep track of them. Friends from elementary school, high school, and friends I just made two weeks ago….Thanks to the powers that be….FACEBOOK!!!

Tech '10

November 9th, 2011
10:57 am

I have plenty of real friends. Facebook just allows people to do all their talking from their computer chair/couch. I however, still prefer a little human contact.

Jacks

November 9th, 2011
11:11 am

My hand is my best friend at night and when I’m lonely.

FROM NEW YORKER TO SOUTHERNER

November 9th, 2011
11:12 am

I THINK THE ARTICLE IS A LIL SILLY BUT I THINK THE POINT WAS THAT SOCIAL MEDIA HAS SEPERATED US AND LESSENED OUR HUMAN INTERACTIONS. I PERSONALLY MUST BE BLESSED BECAUSE I HAVE AT LEAST 4 CLOSE FRIENDS THAT I CAN TELL A SECRET OR STAY WITH IF I WAS IN NEED. :-)

Friendmania

November 9th, 2011
11:13 am

Everyone on the blog should meet up and become friends. Interacting with people personally is much better than Facebook socializing.

Jacks

November 9th, 2011
11:16 am

FROM NEW YORKER TO SOUTHERNER: They all talk bad about you behind your back though.

Pet lover

November 9th, 2011
11:16 am

I agree, humans are way overrated. I have acquaintances, and a couple of good friends, but I wouldn’t trade anything for the true love my dog and cat provide. There’s nothing like curling up on the couch at night, with my animals in my lap. Absolutely the best.

Jacks

November 9th, 2011
11:22 am

Pet lover, but if you were to die alone with your pets, they would eat you.

RCS

November 9th, 2011
11:25 am

If you lend a friend $20, and never see them again, it was probably worth it.

Drew Peterson

November 9th, 2011
11:31 am

Wanna know how many TRUE friends you have? Make this list……………………………….

Who can I call to help get rid of a body that will not ask any questions?

Bubba

November 9th, 2011
7:18 pm

Shaggy:

Can you spare a friend?

Truth

November 9th, 2011
7:26 pm

Tech 10, stop lying. We all know that people who go to Tech have no friends.

Introvert

November 9th, 2011
7:44 pm

I agree with Rob. But, I also feel that friendship and interaction with others is a bit overrated. I’ve never needed to be ‘liked’ and have found that most people are just full of crap. I’m an attractive female and have found that whenever I try to be friends with other women I have to deal with their jealousy remarks and because I’m quick witted I usually hurt their feelings with my replies. I’m not the type of woman that likes shopping or am obsessed with shoes and I really hate talking on phones. I do have a few friends that I know I can call if push comes to shove and they will come because they know that I wouldn’t call unless I am absolutely in need of help. They also know that I would do the same for them. I have a lot of people I talk to on Facebook but I keep my life private and about all they know about me is that I’m from GA. I don’t post many photos of myself on the web and I never tell what my plans are. That’s kinda stupid to me . . .

The Real Deal

November 9th, 2011
8:20 pm

The only one you can count on all the time is God…and he never asks for a loan.

ATLANTA TO SEATTLE IN2016

November 9th, 2011
9:13 pm

metro Atlanta is the worst place for friendship..most are livin pretentiously,most are guarded due to high crime here then any other metro area,by the time you work and sit in traffic here the last thing you wanna do is talk to folks..southerners are cut throat and will smile in your face and cut you side ways,or to self rightous.or just down right ignorant

[...] Erica | Filed under: Sociology of Social Networks | Tags: sociality | No Comments » TweetWith fewer IRL friends than ever, it’s geting easy to skip the step where we’re pleasant to each [...]

to Obama Baby Momma

November 16th, 2011
3:40 pm

You are so sad. You are a racist idiot who is a waste of life!