Americans' circle of confidantes is down to two

November 2, 2011 By Susan Lang

Although the average Facebook user may gave some 130 "friends," in reality, Americans have, on average, slightly more than two confidantes, down from three 25 years ago, but the size of this social network has stabilized since 2004, finds a new Cornell study.

Although this shrinking social network "makes us potentially more vulnerable," said Matthew Brashears, assistant professor of sociology, the good news is that "we're not as socially isolated as scholars had feared."

Brashears' study is published online and in press in the journal Social Networks.

The findings confirm Brashears' 2006 findings from a paper with Miller McPherson and Lynn Smith-Lovin of Duke University, which reported that between 1985 and 2004, the average size of the group with whom we discuss important matters had shrunk by about one-third (from about three people to two).

"We also reported that that the level of -- the percentage of the population that reports not discussing important matters with anyone at all -- in the U.S. had increased dramatically to roughly 25 percent from about 8 percent," said Brashears.

These findings were challenged by prominent who claimed that the results were the result of survey errors.

In the new study, Brashears used new data from a nationally representative experiment. He found that "modern discussion networks have decreased in size, which is consistent with other researchers' findings, but that social isolation has not become more prevalent," said Brashears.

The level of social isolation, he said, is so variable from survey to survey that it is not possible at this point to make generalizations about its true level, although it is possible to measure the overall size of our discussion networks.

Explore further: Sociologists debate: Are Americans really isolated?

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5 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2011
Social networking, worst of all deFacedbook, have utterly impoverished the meaning of friend. Even to the point of requiring the euphemism confidante in this headline.

If one is euphemism for the other, does that make friend dysphemism for confidante. Ahh, the tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.
3 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2011
Well, we are talking about a nation in which in Once City alone - New Orleans, on Halloween 14 people were shot and 2 murdered. In another American city a 10 year old boy pulled a gun on a woman who joked about taking his candy, and in yet another city a homeless man beat a patron at Walmart to death with a store baseball bat - in the store - when the now dead man refused to give him some money.

And in yet another American city the police chief admitted that crime is out of control and that women in the town should carry guns to protect themselves from thieves and rapists.

Last week the guests to a party in a gated community were denied access because they were black and were mistaken for criminals.

This is what Americans call freedom.

Meanwhile in my socialist state I walk the streets without fear at any time of day or night, and don't need to carry a gun to protect myself from Free Thinkers and Freemen.

Who has more freedom?

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