The Union Recorder

Homepage

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
Local News
IMG_3827.jpg

Moye Electric Company Inc. works on one of 18 City of Milledgeville intersections being upgraded by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Signal upgrades, signal communication design, pedestrian facility improvements and signal coordination are part of the work to be completed by spring 2015.

Features
UR_20140705_B00.jpg

Creative Expressions Studio along with the Department of Art at Georgia College is hosting the exhibit, “Once Upon a Brush,” featuring Creative Expressions artists with disabilities along with their stories behind their work. The exhibition will be on display through July 31 at Blackbridge Hall Art Gallery.

Business
Medical Training Specialists.JPG

Medical Training Specialists’ John Gonzalez and Jill Blackwell demonstrate lifesaving resuscitation techniques. The local Training Center for the American Heart Association, located at 1686 N. Columbia St., has trained thousands in the Milledgeville and surrounding area.

Local Sports
Editorials
Columns
Letters
Local Weather Radar
Poll
AP Video
FIFA Rejects Suarez Appeal Against Biting Ban World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Chimp-attack Victim Lobbies Congress Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Thousands Attend NYC Firefighter's Funeral Neighbors Mourn Killing of Texas Family Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Israeli-Palestinian Tensions, Attacks Escalate UN Secretary-General Urges Mideast Ceasefire 'Game of Thrones' Leads Emmy Nominees Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta At Texas Border, a Daily Tide of Poor Migrants Raw: Rescuers Push Beached Whale Back to Ocean Mass. Mayor: Families Lost Everything in Fire Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Connecticut Boy Dies Inside Parked Car Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup'
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel Pilot buys pizzas for travelers delayed by storm Klose nets record, Germany rout Brazil 7-1 'Purrmanently Sad Cat' Looks Adorably Sad All the Time Pharrell 'humbled' by success of mega-hit 'Happy' Day After: Brazil Reeling in WC Loss Jennifer Lawrence Facepalms Emma Watson Athletes Bare All for ESPN Magazine's Body Issue