Is Friendship Limited? An Inquiry into Dunbar's Number

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When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy — that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.

— Mark Twain, Letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks, 1867

Friendship is one mind in two bodies. —Mencius, third century BCE
Earth may be the friendliest place in the universe, if Facebook is any indication. Worldwide, every day, around 5 billion “likes” are generated from 1.13 billion users reaching out to their “friends.” Five new Facebook profiles are generated every second. The friendliest demographic appears to be the 25 to 34 age group, which comprises around 30 percent of users. Craving friendship, 50 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds go on Facebook when they wake up. Overall, people generally seem friendliest mid-week between 1 to 3 pm, when peak usage occurs. No other social media site comes close to Facebook’s popularity. It has more active users than Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp combined. Each Facebook user is allowed up to 5,000 friends.That’s a lot of friendship. Or is it?
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