Snap Inc, parent company of popular social media app Snapchat, released a global survey that explores how culture, age, and technology are shaping up our preferences and attitudes around friendship. The company roped in ten experts on friendship from around the world to interpret the data obtained from the study.
The report brings new insights into how friendship is evolving in different generational groups and in different cultures across the world. It found that people from India, the Middle East, and South-East Asia have three times the number of best friends than the people from Australia, Europe and the US. It discovered that forming friendships is based on when we are born rather than where we are born. For instance, the study states that the Gen Z in the US have more in common with Boomers in India than their own grandparents. It also described how happiness is dependent on friendship. People with no friends or ones with large friendship groups find it difficult to talk and share their problems when they feel low.
Few of the highlighted stats include:
- New apps are rising in prominence for communication. While established apps such as Instagram (74 percent) and Facebook (82 percent) may have been expected, new apps such as Snapchat (68 percent) are becoming more popular to stay connected with friends
- People in India are the most likely in the world to meet their friends in school, college or university
- 63 percent of Indians say that ‘honesty and authenticity’ is the most important quality to have in a best friend
- 43 percent Indians feel distance does not matter as they share the same sentiments and emotions when they speak with friends online
- 74 percent Indians prefer resolving issues with their BFFs or people they know really well in-person.
- Indians are twice as likely to want a friend who “reflects the person I aspire to be”
- People in India are the most likely to value a best friend being intelligent and cultured with one-third citing that as one of the most important qualities in a best friend
- People in India say they have amongst the largest circles of best friends in the world. The average number is 6, around twice that of the US, UK and Germany, and only beaten by the UAE and Saudi Arabia
- Interestingly, not only do people in India have more friends, they also want more friends; 45% of people in India would like to expand their social circle
- Indians are four times more likely than other regions to say that a “large social network” is an essential quality to have in a best friend
According to the report, Indians have about six best friends on an average that comes in second after Saudi Arabians who have on an average of 6.6 best friends. The UK has the lowest at 2.6. In India, people have more friends overall where 45 percent of the respondents said that they would want to expand their social circle. Anthropology lecturer at the London School of Economics Amit Desai said that in Western Europe and North America, “friendship is about finding people who are like you and bonding over your similarities.” Whereas in several Asian countries such as India, it’s more about bringing “alternative but complementary qualities” in a relationship.
The three most reported emotions in the study includes ‘loved’ (55 percent in person versus 43 percent online), ‘happy’ (48 percent in person versus 46 percent online), and ‘supported’ (43 percent in person versus 36 percent online). This data is from India covering both online and offline interactions and it also states that love is central to friendship in this region. Indians are the most ready to fall fast for a friend and a third of them have a best friend from the opposite sex. That’s more than the other countries outside of the US. As per Desai, although marriages in India are traditionally arranged marriages, more young people are seeking the romantic approach that involves dating, falling in love and marrying someone who is also their friend.
According to 73 percent Indians, videos and photos is a preferred method to express what they want to say that they can’t express in words. About 29 percent of Indians say that communicating using the camera is more effective. Miriam Kirmayer, an American Therapist and Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology specialising in interpersonal relationships says that, “Any medium that allows us to share both verbal and non-verbal behavior, like video, can help us to feel closer and more connected and to navigate relationship challenges with clarity.” She suggested that emojis are also an effective way to convey subtle feelings.
Snap conducted the Friendship Report in collaboration with Protein Agency that surveyed 10,000 people across ages between 13 to 75. All of them were chosen randomly and not based on their usage of Snapchat. Across the age groups, they were divided into four generational categories that included Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers. It was conducted across several countries including Australia, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK and US. The survey was organised in April 2019 in India that saw the participation of 2,004 respondents.