Just How Many Facebook Friends Do You Need?
Twenty-somethings spend hours each day keeping their social networks going. But a thousand BFFs just may be a few hundred too many. The torture of modern friendship. Source: Robin Marantz Henig, Samantha Henig /Newsweek/ October 15, 2012
Ask a group of elderly people what it was about their lives that made them happiest overall, and they’ll probably mention some warm relationships with family and friends. If you’re satisfied with your social life, according to psychologists, you tend to be satisfied with life in general. From the vantage point of my 50s, I’d say that sounds about right. Some of my happiest moments are the ones I spend with my husband, a few close relatives, and a handful of very good friends who know me well and like me anyway. But the more I read about how social media are interfering with good old fashioned friendship, creating virtual bonds that can’t quite take the place of real ones, the more I wonder just how today’s 20-somethings will look back on their own lives when they’re my age. After all, much crucial relationship building work is done in the 20s. According to research by Bernice Neugarten of the University of Chicago, who helped launch the academic study of human development, people choose most of their adult relationships, both friends and lovers, between the ages of22 and 28. The friends we make in our 20s are not only BFFs; they’re also our first truly chosen friends, people we discover as a result of our adult decisions—where to live, work, or study—as opposed to our parents’ choices. And choosing how to reconfigure and commit to these friendships is an essential psychological task of the 20s. Finding intimacy—the basis and byproduct of good friendships—is one of the five major life tasks of young adults ages 18 to 30, according to Robert Arnstein, a Yale psychiatristwho was, like Neugarten, a pioneer in the study of development through the life span. But with so...
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