“In love, two is company and three’s a crowd, but in friendship ten is the magic number” according to a report by Fiona McRae of the Daily Mail. The question is how close are we to those with social networks and how important are these friendships in the current climate.
The report highlights studies by Dr Richard Tunney of Nottingham University showing that those with 5 to 10 friends in their close circle will be happiest and content in life, some say potentially adding to our longevity.
It would seem that communities, teams, and above all close friendships not only give us comfort and moral support in troubled times but pulling together our resources and contacts can help with entrepreneurial activities and job hunting more than ever.
However, although it can help, it seems that adding more ’friends’ doesn’t particularly increase our happiness. Today’s GenY and upcoming Z’s take comfort in being seen to be part of a wide social network, giving them the acceptance and approval they need from their community and peer groups. But are the 200+ contacts on their Google Talk, Messenger, Beebo or Facebook superfluous to their needs? How well do they know them? How many have they met or spoken with on a regular basis? Many Generation X and Y are spending their evenings in darkened rooms, or with their Blackberry’s and iPhones on the train, texting and chatting online with their virtual community but as Ryan Healy commented earlier this year, there are a ‘plethora of weak ties’ yet few strong friendships in the social networking arena. Many are starting to ask just how superficial these connections are.