For those people who still seem to brag about the amount of Facebook friends you have, it may actually be meaningful. That's because, according to new research, those with more friends on the social network actually live longer than the poor souls who are busy stalking their exes after they deleted them as connections.
Here, we reference 12 million social media profiles against California Department of Public Health vital records and use longitudinal statistical models to assess whether social media use is associated with longer life. The results show that receiving requests to connect as friends online is associated with reduced mortality but initiating friendships is not.
Additionally, online behaviors that indicate face-to-face social activity (like posting photos) are associated with reduced mortality, but online-only behaviors (like sending messages) have a nonlinear relationship, where moderate use is associated with the lowest mortality. These results suggest that online social integration is linked to lower risk for a wide variety of critical health problems.
Although this is an associational study, it may be an important step in understanding how, on a global scale, online social networks might be adapted to improve modern populations’ social and physical health.
Let's be quick to point out that we guarantee adding a bunch of random people on Facebook will not lead you to become the longest living person on the planet, but it is a solid way to stay socially engaged—which, according to other studies, is good for your overall health and longevity.
So, while the old saying goes, "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer," you may just want to keep as many people as possible close to you, because it might actually extend your life.