Social media addicted Brits struggling to make friends ‘IRL’, claims new survey

More than half of Brits admit their addiction to social media has hindered their ability to make friends in ‘real life’, a study found.

Researchers who polled 3,053 adults found our obsession with social networking has made many of us less likely to go out and meet people. Six in 10 also revealed they have caught up with existing friends less frequently as the world has become more digital.

Further to this, despite its many benefits, 55 per cent believe social media has made their relationship with mates ‘more superficial’. In fact, the research commissioned by Pernod Ricard, found just 23 per cent of friends on Facebook are considered to be genuine mates by those polled.

Perhaps as a result, a third wish they had more close pals than they do currently.

Professor Robin Dunbar, British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist, said: “The limit of friends you have is set by your capacity to invest time and mental effort in them.

“That’s why people who are in love typically can only cope with four other close relationships – because they’re already investing a lot of time and effort in the object of their affection.

“However the more close relationships you have, the higher your levels of happiness are.

“With this in mind, making small changes to our lifestyles like cutting down on social media can give us more time and space in the ‘real world’ to embrace convivial moments with friends.

“And doing this is what creates close, fulfilling and happy friendships.”

The research also found social media, along with busy lifestyles – working long hours, being a parent, and living too far from one another – mean their existing friendships have fizzled out.

In fact, those polled have drifted apart from seven friends in total – as a direct result of not being able to catch-up with one another regularly enough.

On the flipside, social media has actually had a positive effect on the social lives of 22 per cent of the population. And more than a fifth have made a new and genuine friend through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram during the last six months.

The Pernod Ricard research, carried out through OnePoll, found the typical Brit has 12 friends – but feel they can only truly confide in four of them on average. And 56 per cent believe conviviality – sharing genuine moments with family and friends – is key to maintaining close friendships.

However, 59 per-cent of the population feel the UK is a less convivial place than it used to be compared to five years ago.

Alexandre Ricard, chairman & CEO of Pernod Ricard, said: “There’s a real yearning for connection and sharing in today’s world.

To encourage more of us to be convivial Pernod Ricard has produced a documentary called ‘The Power of Conviviality’. To see the documentary click here []

Chris Price