For many of us, Facebook is an online community that is checked and updated daily if not more frequently. It's where we talk about what we're doing and where we're going, it's the place we turn to for encouragement and sometimes sympathy and also where we can post pictures of cute cats for those all important likes.
It's a big, social space and a way to keep in touch with friends and the other people in your life but is there actually any closeness between you and the folks who take a microsecond out of their day to click like?
Anthropologist fella Robin Dunbar has been asking these kinds of questions - specifically examining whether your connections on social media can help you to overcome the generally admitted limit of your social circle in real life, which is generally thought to be about 150 people.
And the results are, perhaps, not that surpising. Dunbar finds that even in the realm of social media the same rough patterns hold true. By which he means the social circle that we have in real life isn't markedly different to that on Facebook, for example. The difference here is that people were asked to name the friends they thought they could rely on for sympathy online and others who would actually help in a crisis.
The figures suggest that people could only really rely on around 4% of their Facebook friends if the actually needed real world help, and a little over 13% for some moral support - as in liking a post on the social network. That's pretty much reflected in our real everyday use, where you interact with a small subset of your total friends list, partly because Facebook only serves you the content it thinks you want to see.
What's the use of social media then? Well it can have an important function in maintaining relationships, helping to perpetuate a kind of closeness between people who don't see eachother regularly. Still Dunbar's research suggets that even these kinds of relationships will decay if they go for long stretches without any real world interaction.
So if there are people you exclusively interact with on Facebook who you want to keep in your life, you better go ask them out for a coffee and a bun, stat!