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Keep Your Distant Facebook Friends

Interesting article about how keeping Facebook friends you have not spoken to in 25 years is a benefit to your real life social standing and social interactions.

A decades-old insight from a study of traditional social networks illuminates one of the most important aspects of today’s online social networking. In 1973, sociologist Mark Granovetter showed how the loose acquaintances, or “weak ties”, in our social network punch far above their weight in their influence over our behavior and choices (American Journal of Sociology, vol 78, p 1360). Granovetter found that a significant percentage of people get their jobs as a result of information provided by a weak tie. Subsequent studies have revealed that weak ties benefit our health and happiness. Granovetter suggested that this is because these friends-of-friends aren’t like you, yet they are likely to be similar enough in social outlook and personal interests to have a positive influence.

The article goes on to talk about how the explosion of everyone’s “loose network” of friends and acquaintances that are connected via social networks will create profound effects on social evolution. A study cited in the article from Cornell University stated that those who more frequently shared information online were more likely to be liked and to “win people over” in real life.

The most interesting element for me is how everyone’s ever expanding social network will prompt people to go to their network first for information, references, advice, support, and referrals. This is one of the main reasons why Google is so concerned about the ever and rapid influence of Facebook as a “go to” source of information over Google’s search engine.

All these social networks are a sociologist’s wet dream!

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