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What is the value of friends

The question of “who are my real friends” or “how many best friends can I have” has burdened both society and myself. Yes, there are individual personality constraints that need to be considered, for example someone that is inherently more introverted will most likely not enjoy having an extremely broad network of friends. On the contrary, an individual that has grown up with many siblings and is used to many social interactions will probably require a lot of friends for maximum happiness. With that said, I believe there are some consistencies in terms of whether it is better to have many friends (many weak links) or have few best friends (few strong ties). By better, in this sense, I mean maximum happiness. Now this might be taking into account actual node behavior, which we haven’t really covered yet in this class, but it is an area of interest for me. I got the idea for this post actually from question 6A on Homework 1, which brought up the idea that some nodes are more valuable in a network in terms of potential future friendships (links).

This article takes an interesting stance, which is that the consistency lies in socioeconomic status. The author suggests that people of more wealth will be happier with a shallower, more extended network, while less fortunate, financially unstable folks are more comfortable with fewer closer friends. This is an interesting idea, because it actually makes a pretty serious and monumental commentary on the different social norms that exist between economic classes. If you are more privileged financially does that suggest you require more friends? Potentially.

I think this is particularly relevant to our class in Networks because of what we have read and learned about the social capital of a network. Social capital suggests that different properties in a network can lend it to be more successful in interacting socially (Easley, 61). This concept, the value, of either a network or a node, is directly taken into account when determining if a few best friends are better to have than a lot of less good friends.



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September 2015