Natalie Haynes: It's not the internet that's putting paid to friendships but time and money

The thing is...

Related Topics

The thing is that if you're reading this in the company of a close friend, you're luckier than some. Research from the University of Cornell in the US has revealed that while we used to have an average of three close friends each 25 years ago, we now have only two. Maybe the third one was talking about us behind our backs and had a crush on our boyfriends. I never liked her anyway.

Actually, almost half of those surveyed claimed to have only one close friend. When asked to name the people with whom they'd discussed "important matters" in the previous six months, 48 per cent of people gave one name, 18 per cent gave two names, and 29 per cent listed more than two. A solitary four per cent listed no names at all, which suggests that they were having a very bad day when the survey was taken. Either that, or Nick Clegg filled in his form more than once.

Is this a sign that we are all becoming isolated and friendless, in an age where social networking chit-chat is more prevalent than deep and meaningful conversations? It probably depends what you count as a close friend. I think if you can call someone at 3 o'clock in the morning and they aren't cross with you, they're a close friend.

But close friends' circumstances change, and that can make friendship more difficult to sustain. My three closest friends (take that, Cornell – I am way popular) have all moved or planned to move out of London in the past year. Before you write in, I do see that they could all be avoiding me, and I have been too rhino-skinned to notice.

But one lost her job here, so moved to Scotland for work. Another now teaches in two cities and moved to a town that was roughly halfway between them so he could occasionally get some sleep and see his wife. And a third is moving 200 miles north, because she wants her own home, and London prices make that impossible.

So while it's tempting to be sniffy about how the internet is costing us our real friends because we've swapped them for Facebook shadows, I probably now have my most intense friend-conversations in email. It isn't the recent rise of social networking that has cost me the regular company of my friends, but the age-old issues of time and money.

Our social lives are actually enhanced by easy electronic communication. Texts and email mean that when we do see our absent friends, we haven't lost touch with what's happening in each other's lives. Rick Blaine and Captain Renault had to shoot a Nazi for the beginning of their beautiful friendship. I just need to open my laptop.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam