Study: Facebook Keeps Us In Touch With High School Friends We’d Have Left Behind A Long Time Ago

Editor-in-Chief
06.16.11

I don’t know about you, but I love studies, particularly studies about the Internet. I mean, who doesn’t, right? And few groups do such studies better than the Pew Internet Research Center. Gosh darnit they just tell us so much about ourselves, we who spend part of our lives on the web, and also validate many of the things we were already thinking.

For instance: I was just having a discussion with a friend the other day about how social media makes it extremely difficult to, well, get rid of people in your life you don’t want in your life anymore, people that would’ve more easily been put in the rearview mirror just a few years ago. Not for anything bad mind you, it’s just that there’s an evolutionary process of sorts that seems to be getting disrupted suddenly — you grow up, you change, you meet new people and make new friends while taking some of the old ones with you and leaving behind the ones who inhibit your progress. It’s now become harder to leave people behind.

And so today Pew is out with the results of another study, this time on the impact social media has on our lives, and one of the key findings was, what do you know, that “Facebook revives ‘dormant’ relationships, particularly with people we went to high school with, who just so happen to make up the majority of the average user’s friends on Facebook.

In our sample, the average Facebook user has 229 Facebook friends. They reported that their friends list contains:

• 22% people from high school
•12% extended family
•10% coworkers
•9% college friends
•8% immediate family
• 7% people from voluntary groups
• 2% neighbors

Over 31% of Facebook friends cannot be classified into these categories. However, only 7% of Facebook friends are people users have never met in person, and only 3% are people who have met only one time. The remainder is friends-of-friends and social ties that are not currently active relationships, but “dormant” ties that may, at some point in time, become an important source of information.

Here’s a chart to illustrate the findings…

And another…

Now, I’m sure that while I find this sort of dormant friendship revival annoying (The friendships were dormant for a reason!), there are probably others who think it’s great, so whatever. Also, via Reddit, here’s one more chart that illustrates how the Internet is changing EVERYTHING…

Still not sure how I feel about all this.

(Still from Mean Girls via)

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