Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Community News Network

January 14, 2014

Study: Your friends really are happier, more popular than you

We like to blame Facebook and Instagram for making it seem as though all of our friends lead cooler, more sociable, more interesting lives. But it turns out social networks are not at fault: Your friends really are richer, happier and more popular than you, according to a depressing new study from researchers in Finland and France.

This little mobius strip of a phenomenon is called the "generalized friendship paradox," and at first glance it makes no sense. Everyone's friends can't be richer and more popular — that would just escalate until everyone's a socialite billionaire.

The whole thing turns on averages, though. Most people have small numbers of friends and, apparently, moderate levels of wealth and happiness. A few people have buckets of friends and money and are (as a result?) wildly happy. When you take the two groups together, the really obnoxiously lucky people skew the numbers for the rest of us. Here's how MIT's Technology Review explains the math:

"The paradox arises because numbers of friends people have are distributed in a way that follows a power law rather than an ordinary linear relationship. So most people have a few friends while a small number of people have lots of friends.

"It's this second small group that causes the paradox. People with lots of friends are more likely to number among your friends in the first place. And when they do, they significantly raise the average number of friends that your friends have. That's the reason that, on average, your friends have more friends than you do."

And this rule doesn't just apply to friendship — other studies have shown that your Twitter followers have more followers than you, and your sexual partners have more partners than you've had. This latest study, by Young-Ho Eom at the University of Toulouse and Hang-Hyun Jo at Aalto University in Finland, centered on citations and coauthors in scientific journals. Essentially, the "generalized friendship paradox" applies to all interpersonal networks, regardless of whether they're set in real life or online.

So while it's tempting to blame social media for what the New York Times last month called "the agony of Instagram" — that peculiar mix of jealousy and insecurity that accompanies any glimpse into other people's glamorously Hudson-ed lives — the evidence suggests that Instagram actually has little to do with it. Whenever we interact with other people, we glimpse lives far more glamorous than our own.

That's not exactly a comforting thought, but it should assuage your anxiety next time you scroll through your Facebook feed.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • The Simpsons still going strong

    The groundbreaking animation first hit the air Dec. 17, 1989, but the family first appeared on television in "The Tracey Ullman Show" short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987.

    August 21, 2014

  • Police chief resigns over racial slur repost to Facebook

    A repost on his personal Facebook page of a racially-charged comment by the original poster of a comedy video has forced the police chief of an Oklahoma city to resign his office.

    August 21, 2014

  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

House Ads
Hendricks County Marquee
High School Football Scoreboard Poll
Email News Sign Up
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Are you worried about the violence in Ferguson, Mo., spreading across the country?

Yes
No
Not concerned one way or the other
     View Results
AP Video
Furry Roommates: Dorms Allowing Cats and Dogs Raw: Wash. Mudslides Close Roads, Trap Motorists DC's Godfather of Go-Go Honored Ukraine Calls Russian Convoy a 'direct Invasion' Girl Meets Her 'one in the World' Match Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Must Read