No one can possibly have more than 200 real friends, says a study, which was published last Wednesday. The new study that relates to Dunbar's Number – the theoretical limit of friends a person can have – was co-written by Robin Dunbar, a British evolutionary psychologist who came up with the concept.
According to him, people can nurture relationships with no more than 150 people in real life as well as on social media, given the limitations of brain capacity and free time.
So individuals (who are not using Facebook as an unofficial online fan club) who have thousands of people listed in their friend network, do not actually have 1,000 friends. They would be better off categorized as “acquaintances” says Dunbar, or people who one can recognize on sight.
Dunbar further explains the intricacies of friendship and the effort it takes to nurture true friendships, saying that on average, people usually only have five intimate friends, 15 who can be labeled as “good friends,” 150 friends, and up to 1,500 people who can be recognized on sight – acquaintances.
Among these layers of friendship, Dunbar counts the 150 limit as important.
“[This] defines the people you have real reciprocated relationships with, those where you feel obligations and would willingly do favors,” he said.
Although the social media site, Facebook, does not distinguish your relationship between people in your network as a “friend” or “acquaintance” it does have an Acquaintance List feature which will allow you to better filter your friend feed to only get relevant posts, and share your own posts, with those whom you consider your 150 true friends online.
According to Facebook's Help Center, you can create an Acquaintance List directly from your News Feed and none of the people you add to this list will be notified of their designation as merely an Acquaintance and not a Friend, even if Facebook mistakenly celebrates your 46 years of friendship with a person.