I have a very small circle of friends, a good size group of acquaintances, and one really good friend. Oh, and Baby Man. According anthropologist Robin Dunbar (see BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | What’s the ideal number of friends?), most people have an average of 150 friends.
I think, depending on your definition of friends, this is believable. With sites like Facebook and MySpace, we are growing our circle of friends so quickly and easily now. But I think we need to a bit more clear about the label of friend. Merriam-Webster defines friend as ” a favored companion”. A lot of people use it when “acquaintance” might be more appropriate. For example, I quite liked some of the people I worked with. And while I think there may have been a possibility for friendship to grow, I still consider them acquaintances since we never really got a chance to know each other outside of work.
Admittedly, the point of the article isn’t that we should try to have as many friends as possible (although the lead in about it boasting your income is pretty tempting). The point is that while we may be able to have up to 150 “friends”, there is a core group of about 5 that are true 3-am-phone-call friends. Those are the most important, the most precious, and the ones that we need to spend our time with.
I have 44 friends on Facebook. Truthfully, many of them I haven’t seen in years, and there are a couple that I have never met in person. Are all these people really true friends? No, but I like them anyway.