You are hereWhich of your friends can you call on?

Which of your friends can you call on?


We may have thousands of online pals, but a survey suggests we've just two in the real world.
So, how many of your Facebook friends did you splash the price of a postage stamp on this festive season?
Just two lucky pals actually made the cut for a Christmas card, if a new study is to be believed.
With hundreds and even thousands of friends and followers on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, on the surface most of us have never been more popular.
Despite accumulating countless acquaintances online, however, offline each of us only have two real friends -- the kind you'd trust with a secret or ask for a loan -- according to a survey by Cornell University.
"These are the people you think of as your real confidantes, your go-to people if you need something," says sociologist Matthew Brashears, who conducted the survey.
And although we're 'friending' more people than ever before, the average number of best friends is actually down from three in 1985. So could social networking, ironically, be making us more antisocial?
"Facebook is a fantastic way to reconnect with old friends or stay in touch with friends who are living abroad," says psychologist Colin O'Driscoll of Change Psychology Services. "But it's not a healthy replacement for genuine friendships.
"Social networking can sometimes be used obsessively to the point that it starts to prevent true, in-person socialisation rather than aiding it," he warns.
"Facebook asks the question, 'What's on your mind?' -- ultimately, though, that's something best discussed face-to-face with a real friend rather than posted on a 'Wall'."
Below, Ireland's celebrity Facebook users reveal the two true pals they'll never 'unfriend'.
Alan Hughes, presenter of Ireland AM
Facebook friends: 4,104
Real friends: Karl Broderick and Derek Mooney
"[RTÉ presenter] Derek has been my best friend for over 20 years and is the most kind, funny and generous friend you could ever hope for.
"When [husband] Karl and I first met, Derek actually came out with us on our first few dates. He even came on holiday with us! It sounds funny, but I hate when people dump their friends because of a new relationship. Being such a sweet guy, Karl was cool with it -- and now he and Derek are best friends too.
"My real friends are the ones who would get out of bed to pick me up if I broke down on the M50. But Karl and Derek are more than just my best friends -- they're my family."
Alan is currently starring in 'Sleeping Beauty' at the Tivoli Theatre. See www.panto.ie
Berni Cafolla, model and businesswoman
Facebook friends: 1,549
Real friends: sisters Valerie Roe, Patricia Roe and Gillian Quinn
"My sisters and I are lucky enough to have three true friends in life -- each other.
"The dictionary defines 'sisterhood' as a bond of friendship and understanding between women -- and that describes our relationship to a T. Whenever there's drama, the phones start hopping -- and the men in our lives know to stand well back! Some outsiders have suggested that we may be jealous of each other's success, but nothing could be further from the truth. We're like the Four Musketeers -- all for one, and one for all."
Kamal Ibrahim, Mr World 2010
Facebook friends: 4,912
Real friends: Shane Lennon and Donna McGarry
"My Facebook friends are wonderful people whom I interact with regularly, but I've never even met most of them. To me, a real friend is someone who sees the best in you even when you don't see it yourself; someone you can trust and rely on. As I have fewer than a handful of these people in my life, narrowing it down to two isn't hard.
"My closest friend is [model] Shane Lennon. We met through work four years ago and he's been a loyal friend ever since. My agent Donna McGarry is next on the list because she keeps me on the right track."
Andrea Hayes Animal A&E' presenter
Facebook friends: 2,970
Real friends: Mum Marie and Conor Clear
"Over the past few years, my mum and I have become more like best friends than mother and daughter -- going shopping and on holidays together. I just had my own daughter, Brooke, four months ago and it's really made me appreciate everything mum did for us growing up.
"[3e presenter] Conor and I were thrown together by TV3 in 2008 -- and just clicked immediately. Even though Conor's gay, a lot of viewers wrote in to say we made a lovely couple! Mum and Conor get on like a house on fire too -- so the best part is that the three of us can hang out together."
Chara Nagle, artist
Facebook friends: 291
Real friends: Una McGurk and Maolisa Gough-Ní Molloy
"Whenever I need to talk to someone, I call my best pals Una or Maolisa. Una owns Revive beauty salons in Dublin and Mol is an architect and restoration specialist -- and I think it's that shared love of beautiful things that helped us bond. We're on the same wavelength. For instance, working on my latest collection, Portrait of a Horse, I became obsessed over what shade of gold to use. And whereas anyone else would be like: 'What are you on about?', I could sit down with Una and Mol and discuss it for hours over several glasses of wine."
Paddy Cole, musician
Facebook friends: 1,644
Real friends: Eamon Monaghan and Michael Sherry
"Over the years, I've made lots of good friends -- but [musician] Eamon and [businessman] Michael are my closest. Michael is a Monaghan man like myself, so whenever our home county is in contention for the Sam Maguire, we always go to the matches with my sons Pearse and Pat. Some might say we don't get out too often so!
"I met Eamon in 1960 when he asked me to join the Capitol Showband. Since then we've travelled the world together playing music -- and still regularly meet up with our former bandmates to play golf and tell lies!"
Paddy features in Ireland's Show-bands: Do You Come Here Often? at The Helix, DCU, 6-8 January 2012
Audrey McGrath, RTÉ weather presenter
Facebook friends: 728
Real friends: Deric Hartigan and Niamh McManus
"[RTÉ continuity announcer] Niamh is my sis -- or at least she must have been in a previous life. From day one we just 'got' each other, and we have so much fun both at work and off-duty. We only ever want the best for one another -- even if it means delivering some harsh realities.
"[3e weather presenter] Deric and I met on my first day at TV3 and have been friends ever since. He could ring me up at half an hour's notice and say: 'Get your gúna on, we're going dancing' -- which I love. Even if you put me on a desert island with Deric or Niamh, we'd find something to laugh about."
Catherine Fulvio, celebrity chef
Facebook friends: 1,213
Real friends: Dad Charlie Byrne and Marina Fagan
"Aside from my husband Claudio, my two best friends are my dad Charlie and [business coach] Marina Fagan. After my mum died, I was at a total loss. Dad lives next door and was so supportive -- helping out with the guesthouse or just chatting. Our relationship has matured into a great friendship.
"I met Marina on my first job after college -- before long, we were sharing a flat and our plans for the future. She always encouraged me to follow my dream of owning my own cookery school. Last week, I called to her house unexpectedly and she whipped up a wonderful dinner for me in half an hour -- now there's a real friend!"  By Deirdre Reynolds
 

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