In case you hadn’t already figured it out for yourself, just because someone accepted your Facebook friend request after you drunkenly chatted them up during a college party, it doesn’t mean they’re actually your friend.
The average person has about 150 friends on the social media platform and, according to Oxford professor of evolutionary psychology Robin Dunbar’s research, only 15 of those could be considered friends, and only 5 considered close friends.
The study found that, rather than increasing friendship circles, adding someone on social media merely acted as a buffer that prevented the real life friendship from decaying over time as quickly as it would without the Facebook connection.
“Friendships, in particular, have a natural decay rate in the absence of contact, and social media may well function to slow down the rate of decay,” the study found. “However, that alone may not be sufficient to prevent friendships eventually dying naturally if they are not occasionally reinforced by face-to-face interaction.”
To anyone who’s ever felt slighted by “friends” who were happy to interact on social media, but were never free for IRL hang outs, science has vindicated your worst fears: these wishy-washy people were never actually your friends.