A new study by the Royal Society Open Science provides some insights into how many people we should let into our lives as friends online and offline.  The study titled “Do online social media cut through the constraints that limit the size of offline social networks?”  The biggest factor in maintaining a good relationship is the time that you spend developing, nurturing and growing the relationship.  Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram give worldwide reach and the ability to communicate with more people than ever.  The constant you still must address is time.  We have a limited amount of time and more recently people my inner circle seem to be pruning their list of Facebook friends instead of growing them.  They realize that not everyone is their friend and that many of the people they connect with are acquaintances or possibly just someone they talked to at a bar once and connected online instead of exchanging numbers.  The point is, many people on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat connect with more friends than they can possibly handle.  It’s important to realize that relationships take an investment of time and that while posts are popular, face-to-face communication is not dead.

Face-to-face communication is one of the most powerful forms of communication and while social media sites can extend the life of a friendship, they still require the occasional real hug and discussion without emoticons.  Video services like Skype, Facebook Messenger and Facetime are trying to incorporate video because it communicates the verbal and non-verbal communication that you get in face-to-face communication.  “New technology will likely need to involve vision and touch because both are central to how we interact with each other (and make a big difference in how satisfying we find an interaction),” Dunbar told HuffPost.

So How Many Facebook Friends Are Too Many?

A central feature of social networking sites like Facebook, is the connecting to friends or following other users. For example, your Facebook friend count is displayed prominently to create a sense of achievement or competition with your other friends.  This approach is the same on Twitter, Instagram and other social networks.  People want to be liked and have a lot of friends in real life.  A study conducted by Michigan State University showed that an overabundance of friend connections raises doubts about Facebook users’ popularity and desirability.  So how many Facebook friends are too many?  The decision is ultimately up to you.  If you aren’t sure, start with family and friends you grew up with and expand your network from there.  When you start hiding people’s posts from your timeline and rarely talk to them its probably a good time to reconsider if you should be friends online.