On average we have 136 friends on Facebook, but 40% of us see none of them on a weekly basis.
Just 6% meet up with one social media friend a week, while just over one in ten (11%) touch base with two.
With these statistics being true of our friends on social media, it’s no wonder that almost four out of ten (37%) of us feel we have no neighbours we consider to be friends and just over one in five (21%) have no one nearby that we could depend on for a favour.
Seven out of ten (72%) of us would ask a neighbour to accept a package but only a third of us (30%) are prepared to ask for a cup of sugar (30%).
It feels that whilst we have invested heavily in creating virtual connections we have sometimes ignored our human relationships. We aren’t always using social media to enhance our real world relationships, instead replacing face-to-face contact with these virtual friendships.
We may have plenty of social media friends, but having neighbours that you can turn to, whether that’s to take in a parcel, borrow some milk or just for a chat, is so important. We all want to feel part of a community and know that someone is there to help a hand.
Many of us are having less and less actual contact with those who matter to us, and – as a result – are missing out on the health benefits that friendships can provide.
Research has even shown that a strong social network gives us some protection against illness. The theory is that when we are in close proximity with those we like and love, we increase the levels of ‘bonding hormone’ oxytocin in our bloodstreams. Good levels of oxytocin counteract harmful stress chemicals, such as adrenaline and cortisol, in our bodies.
This boost only occurs when we meet other individuals for real, as opposed to online.
Why not make the commitment today, to meet up with a friend, from social media or otherwise, who you haven’t seen in a while? Just for a chat and a catch-up, and start taking the time to invest in your genuine friendships, for the good of yourself and your community too.
Read a blog post from Co-op’s Chief Membership Officer, Rufus on how he hopes to forge stronger communities by asking people to Join the Co-op.
Psychotherapist and Health Writer