The research wizards at the Pew Internet & American Life project have some good news for American Facebook users (that might be you!): you have more close real friends, and are less "isolated." I totally relate! Right guys? Guys?
The study found that "The average user of a social networking site has more close ties and is half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American" (YES!) What's that mean? "Internet users average 14% more discussion confidants than non-users." Confidants! That's an exotic term for people you talk about having sex with.
But there are some other interesting nuggets, if not very exciting ones. To nobody's surprise, your Facebook friends don't line up with the people you actually know and like in your life. The average FB user is only Facebook-friends with 48% of the people they know, and 11% of users are friends with more people than they personally know. If anything, that seems extremely low, as friending people you glance at from across the bar becomes increasingly acceptable.
The rocksolid Facebook friend mainstay, Pew says, is your old high school pals. "The average Facebook user's friends list consists of 56 people from high school; 22% of their total friends list," the study found. A plurality of people you can slowly watch grow old, fat, and increasingly irrelevant in your day to day life.