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The Strength of the Weak Tie

The NY Times article initially dives into a personal story of one of the harsh realities of adulting: job loss. The response to this in today’s day and age? A simple tweet. The outcome? A new job opportunity. However, it wasn’t an immediate friend that reached out, rather a friend of a friend. The article offers that the “low-stakes relationships” that we encounter everyday can actually be very beneficial, and that “weak ties can offer strong rewards”. In fact, weak ties are found to make individuals feel less lonely and as backed by a 2014 study, there is a positive correlation between number of weak ties and level of happiness. It explores how weak ties connect us with our relevant community and can keep us involved with the people around us if our strong ties are far away. The article accurately points to the fact that people get so caught up in their daily schedule that they often forget about the smaller interactions. Yet, weak ties can “increase our satisfaction of life” and beyond this, the author argues that weak ties are what helps expand our social circles. The article finishes with advice as to how to develop these weak ties, one being to make the conversations meaningful.

This article manages to cover multiple areas of course material all in one, ultimately expressing the advantages of weak ties, yet adding in smaller details related to course concepts as well. It captures the dynamic of society today, in how social media is truly wrapped into our daily lives. As discussed in lecture, people that were surveyed were more likely to obtain a job through a weak tie than one of their strong ties, which is exactly what happened for the author of the article. Beyond this, it’s important to note that social media is what drove this relationship to begin with. More specifically, the Triadic Closure Property can be applied to the situation. The woman that tweeted ended up being contacted by a friend of a friend on Facebook. If we were to apply what we learned in lecture, and assuming each friend had a strong tie with the mutual friend, then it’s almost natural that the two strangers came together. Beyond this, the two strangers are now very close friends. It can be argued that what started as a weak tie has now developed into a strong tie. The article also explains how we typically have the largest number of friends around 25 and we slowly lose connection with people after this. So not only is social media bringing this massive network of people together, but it also keeps these networks “alive”. Even if it’s over the computer, we have adults over the age of 60 that are able to reconnect with high school friends whom they haven’t spoken to in years. Everyone is focused on how detrimental social media is to society, however I’d like to offer that it’s keeping these vast networks alive and growing, even if that happens to be through weak ties. The article emphasizes establishing and maintaining weak ties, which in a sense led me to believe that we typically overlook how large our own personal network truly is. That being said, a “hello” to a classmate passing in the hallway can actually go a lot farther than one might imagine.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/smarter-living/why-you-need-a-network-of-low-stakes-casual-friendships.html

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