We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Back in 1991, the sociologist Scott Feld made a surprising discovery while studying the properties of social networks. Feld calculated the average number of friends that a person in the network has and compared this to the average number of friends that these friends had.
Against all expectations it turned out that the second number is always bigger than the first. Or in other words, your friends have more friends than you do.
Researchers have since observed the so-called friendship paradox in a wide variety of situations. On Facebook, your friends will have more friends than you have. On Twitter, your followers will have more followers than you do. And in real life, your sexual partners will have had more partners than you’ve had. At least, on average.
I always figured that it was because my friends are friendlier, wittier, and more fun than I am.
Sociologists are the 'new age' soothsayers. Like the old age ones, they are mostly clueless and mostly useless. Give them a title, a degree, some funding and a job and they will accumulate and fuss over vast amounts of data. And with that data they will combine hubris to produce fairy tales. More friends or less? Richer or poorer? Friends? What about all those friends? First, they are not friends. Completely false premise. Friends are people you know, know well and like. Friends are people who participate in your life. People on social networks are at best and for the most part numbers on a phone app or pictures in Facebook. Enough said? But, I have more. You want to know why we have social network 'friends' with more 'friends' than us? I call it the social butterfly effect. We naturally gravitate to what we see as the cool kids or popular kids. Cheerleaders and quarterbacks. Sex and money. Power and gravitas. We gravitate to stuff we like. It's nothing new and it isn't a surprise. Spoiler Hint: You can tell it's probably bullshit when the article starts with the phrase, "back in 1991". Like, that's like such a long time ago when everything was still undiscovered and stuff, yo. LMFAO
J.T. Wenting: And how do they explain the mathematical impossibility of it all?
Say you have one friend. Your friend knows three other people. One of your friend's friends knows ten other people, and one of those knows Beyoncé who knows thousands. Most people in that network know someone who knows more people than they do. Even Beyoncé may know someone who is more connected than she.
It's not mathematically impossible. It's a result of using the mean [average] of an almost certainly non-Bell shaped distribution of whatever among your friends. Given even one largish outlier the mean is incredibly likely to be greater than whatever your 'value' is.
If they used the median the apparent difference would probably disappear.