If you have too few "friends" on Facebook, people might think you're a loser. Too many and people might think you're a social slut. Is there really an optimal number, and will it really make you happy?

In 2011, a study done by Researchers at University College London (UCL) discovered a direct link between the number of 'Facebook friends' a person has and the size of particular brain regions. They also found that the more Facebook friends a person has, the more 'real-world' friends they are likely to have. So more friends should equate to more happiness, right?

Not really, according to the findings of a later study. Researchers asked a sample group of Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 65 to read some of their friends’ status updates, and found that those Facebook users rated their lives as much less satisfying than people who didn’t check their news feed first. And among the group who read updates, the study revealed that having 354 Facebook friends seemed to be the tipping point after which people were increasingly less happy with their lives.

So what is there to learn from all this? The study authors theorise that much of how we judge our success in life is based on how we stack up against our peers.  And the problem with Facebook is that it only gives us a limited view of our friends’ lives. Thus, the more friends you have, the more likely your going to be bombarded by posts from someone’s paradise vacation, new girlfriend, or job promotion.

So does this mean we should just quit Facebook altogether? Not necessarily. But what you can do is start controlling what lands on your newsfeed. Here’s how:
  • Unsubscribe feeds from friends who seem to have nothing better to do than update statuses about how freaking fantastic their lives are. What you don’t know can’t hurt your self-esteem.
  • Fine-tune your feeds by downgrading status updates to smaller portions, or only viewing their “most important” posts.
  • Cut ties with excess acquaintances to reduce your stream to those who you’re actually friends with in real life. If this means ditching your dentist, your freshman year hall-mate, and your overbearing ex, then so be it.