Oct. 19th, 09 · 1:11 pm
The idea that social networking is contagious is not new or novel. Web-savvy folks already know how the simplest and silliest images, videos or sites can spread like the flu as illustrated by terms such as “viral video” or “memes.” Most people don’t think of their interactions offline as social networking since the phrase has come to represent a new media/web2.0 phenomenon but that’s exactly what they are, right? Your group of friends, colleagues, associates and family are all part of your social network and may or may not be interrelated at some point. Regardless of where your network is primarily located (online or offline), your social network can have a profound effect on your own choices and behavior, influencing everything from what music you download purchase to how much you weigh.
The idea that social networks impact our preferences from the simple (music selection, what to wear) to the important (voting, spreading disease) is examined in the book “Connected,” by Dr. Nicholas Christakis (sociologist and physician) and James Fowler (political scientist). Christakis’ and Fowler’s research found that within three degrees of separation, we have a significant impact on one another’s behavior. “That means that your friends, your friends’ friends, and your friends’ friends’ friends may all affect your eating habits, voting preferences, happiness, and more. At the fourth degree, however, the influence substantially weakens.” Hmm, so taking an example from my own friends (with a little help from Facebook), my pal Travis, his friend Crystal and her friend Sakina (who I have never seen or heard of) can all have an impact on my life? Sakina’s friend Johnathan from Ohio State, however, wouldn’t really make a difference at all Wow.
It’s not so much of a big deal if Sakina’s preference for the new Ginuwine album leads to me somehow listening to some tracks. That’s like the social media equivalent of the contagious yawn. Christakis and Fowler have found that the impact can be greater than that, impacting your physical body. “If a mutual friend becomes obese, it nearly triples a person’s risk of becoming obese.” Forget the fact that Sakina lives in North Carolina, ” you’re still at risk for gaining weight if a friend 1,000 miles away gets bigger.” Um, you guys know that I have issues with the obese set. Luckily I don’t have to concoct some new Facebook Quiz (How Much Do You Weigh and How Many Miles from Brooklyn Are You?) to parse my friend list. The researchers found that people who 86’d their chubbo friends were even more susceptible to obesity. That’s internet karma coming at you. “On the one hand, yes, our work showed that if you keep your friend, you are going to be susceptible to their bad behaviors,” says Fowler. “On the other hand, time and again, what our work shows is that every friend makes you healthier and happier.” Aw. Warm fuzzies!
Americans are a funny breed. We value traits like independence and autonomy. We like to be in control of our own lives for the most part, yet most of what we do and feel is tainted by the actions and feelings of those we socialize with… and their friends, and their friend’s friends. So what is the takeaway from all of this? We are not in this alone and we are all connected with one another. What you and I do matter, not just to you and I, but to people we may not have ever met. It certainly lends a little more weight to the idea that one person can make a difference. Thoughts?
Sources: CNN.com/technology; Connected; BostonGlobe
Aug. 13th, 09 · 9:37 pm
I was reading an article from Double X by Emily Bazelon about how the recession is wrecking friendships…
Because of the downturn, friendships between two people whose Saturday night spending and overall class status used to calibrate precisely have now turned into trickier relationships between one person who still has money and one person who doesn’t.The rifts between friends created by the recession are a kind of collateral damage.
While I don’t 100% identify with the article, it did make me think of how some of my friendships have changed since my situation has changed. I won’t blame the economy for not staying in touch with friends but I know that since things have been shaky with me on the job front, I’ve intentionally let some friendships slide to the back burner.
You would think that in times of stress, frustration, despair and worry (all feelings one might have when unemployed or otherwise disillusioned), you would surround yourself with people you care about. People who care about you too. You’d want to spend all your time with your pals who can help lift you up, make you laugh and remind you of all the good things in life. Eh, it’s exactly the opposite. While I miss hanging out with my friends and talking to them on the phone or online, I’d just rather not bother. I don’t want to be reminded of the good times because frankly, it just reminds me of the life I used to have. So, I’ve been avoiding folks. Continue reading →
Feb. 2nd, 09 · 7:18 am
Oh my goodness. I hurt all over. Why? Because I went snowboarding last weekend. Yep, about 12 of us from the law school joined up with folks from Outdoor Japan and headed up to Naeba to ski and snowboard. I had no experience doing either one of those. Granted, I’ve been on two ski trips but never made it skiing due to the fact that we partied too hard the night before. Not advisable to get on the slopes with a hangover. Trust, it’s hard enough to do sober!
Friday after class, we hoofed it to Harajuku where we loaded onto a bus that took us and some other folks up to the mountain. We nearly killed a whole bottle of Jack on the way up which was a good compliment to jerk chicken they served on the bus. Oh yeah, it was a “Reggae Snowsplash” weekend. Reggae music, good vibes and snow! We arrived at a traditional Japanese inn, the kind that doesn’t have any beds, just tatami mats and futons. No… not
Tatami mat floor/sleeping area
the futons you had in college with the metal frame and all. I mean a thin pad that rolls/folds up and you store it in a closet when you’re not sleeping. We also kicked back on rice pillows which were exactly what they sound like: pillows stuffed with rice. Not cool. It was also type annoying to have to take off your shoes all the time. The JPNese don’t mind because they have slippers for everything. Slippers to put on after you take off your outdoor shoes. Slippers to put on when you go into the bathroom. Special slippers for every room it seems!
Anyway, after having a few (more) drinks that night, we went to bed to prepare for the next day. Saturday we rented gear which, when all said and done, had to add like 15 more pounds to our bodies. It wasn’t too cold out but the snow was falling lightly. It was pretty out there. Being in Tokyo, I haven’t seen snow in a long time. A crew of us started out on a little practice hill just to figure out how to stand up on the board, get it strapped up and “get our legs.” By the end of the day, I don’t think we had any of that down except for the strapped up part! After a couple of tries on the baby hill we slid over to the ski lift for a ride to the top of the mountain. Continue reading →
Jan. 29th, 09 · 6:49 am
What have I been up to this week? Not much. Regular life stuff, school/sleep/eat. Walk around the city, pop into different shops every now and again.
On Monday, our Japanese teacher Suzuki set us up on a rendez-vous with some advanced students of hers, French guys. They were pretty cool, albeit young (21!). I was hyped at first because I have way better French skills than Japanese. When I got there though, I was kind of quiet with the francais because I didn’t want to sound like an idiot. All was well though. We went to an Izakaya (almost like a tapas style restaurant with drinks and private rooms) in Shinjuku and shared plates while drinking warm sake
1 of our new French pals
and having conversation. Afterward we headed to an English Pub for a beer. I think it was that brief interaction with those guys that reminded me how much I need to get to France. They were telling me how 7+ yrs of language study was like a complete waste without ever having visited the country. Who can disagree with that?
We also went out with Suzuki for an eel lunch. Pretty tasty. I could have sworn that my last experience with eel was unpleasant, but when we got to the restaurant and had a lightly grilled eel over rice in a brown sauce, well I was pleased.
Side note: the Japanese will make tea out of anything. I’ve had rice tea, soba tea, oat tea and who the hell else knows what kind of tea. They’re all pretty bad if you were wondering. What happened to all that green tea I was told they drink over here?
Tonight I’ll pack a bag to get ready for a weekend trip. We’re heading up north to Naeba to go snowboarding! So you’ll most def have to check back for the details on that!
New FLICKR photos up, BTW. If you’re my f’book friend, you’ve already seen ’em though.
Sep. 11th, 08 · 3:14 pm
Briefly: I can’t tell you how much it pains me to owe money to friends. I try not to borrow any unless it’s really necessary. Even then, I put up a fight. I know people just want to help, I guess I’m used to taking care of myself and making a way. Still, even I know that we all need a hand. Times is hard. I’m a student. I don’t have family with money in their pockets.
When I do need to borrow money from a friend, it stays on my mind to pay them back. It might not be the next week or the next month, but for sure I’m going to get it back to them. They may have forgotten about it or they might not really expect a return at all (a lot of people have the view that if you can’t afford to lose it, you can’t lend it).
When I’m out with my friends and I forgot to get cash or I’m short a few bucks, someone will probably front me the dough. Now I don’t keep exact tabs on debts like that. I just know that next time I’ll get the tab. That’s not really an I owe you/you owe me situation. That’s just the way it is with friends. Direct money lending, however, is another story. Especially when it’s a large amount.
Anyway, I pay folks back. I expect the same. Otherwise, you’re in for a world of pain. Just like oil and water, business and pleasure, friends and owed money just doesn’t mix.
So if I need some paper, just know I’m good for it!!
Sep. 8th, 08 · 2:52 pm
I was thinking about how helpful my friend was the other night when I was inches away from alcohol poisoning. I also thought about how he doesn’t really have that much experience dealing with drunk friends (at least I don’t think so). So I figured I’d give a few tips on what one should do when entrusted with the care of a shitfaced pal.
1. Take a lesson from the folks in New Orleans and Key West. PREPARE!
In preparing for Gustav and Ike, the good folks of the coastal region know that even though it all looks good (calm before the storm), some shit is about to go down. They buy out the stores, board up their homes and, if they’re smart, they’ll hightail it out of town. You can do the same for you drunk friend. You can totally tell when somebody is heading down the road to DrunkAsFuckTown. This is a good time to start slipping them glasses of water and directing them away from the open bar. If they haven’t threatened to keel over yet, you might even want to take ’em to a diner for some fries. Mmm, fries. Continue reading →
Aug. 20th, 08 · 8:23 pm
What’s the female equivalent of that phrase? Chicks before Dicks? Ugh, whatever. I think by the time I’m done you’ll get my point.
Whatever you call it, I haven’t always been true to that credo. We say it all the time, never put your man/woman over your friends. The thinking is that relationships come and go, whereas friendships are constant. I get it, I really do and for the most part (about 98%) I’m with it. On the other hand, what if you believe you’re in a relationship that’s not “come and go”? Does “chicks before dicks” extend to your husband? I doubt it.
Anyway, like I said, I fell short once. A situation concerning myself, my girlfriend and my boyfriend ended up with me not talking to my friend anymore. For convenience (and privacy), let’s call her Faye.
Faye and I met in middle school. We weren’t super duper close during those years but in high school she was definitely a close associate. I had other girls who I would consider more friends at that time. When high school came to a close, however, we kind of banded together. We were up for some of the same scholarships. We were like our very own sorority of black chicks who were going to good schools, getting up out of our crap towns. We bonded in our burgeoning bourginess (points to me for alliteration!). During college, we became closer. Although we went to school in different states, I would often visit her campus for X-mas or other breaks and we’d hang.
After college was through, I was supposed to go straight to law school in New Orleans. I changed my mind, however, and decided to work a little bit and live in NYC. I linked up with Faye who was planning on staying in the city and we got a place together. Around the same time, I was in a relationship with a guy I’ll call Jason. Jason and I met my last semester in college. We were bonded instantly and when I left to go to NY, he moved up there to, staying with family.
Faye and I made cool roommates. We both worked a lot and really just relaxed in the evenings. On the weekends, she’d either go out of town or chill on a date. I’d hang with Jason who’d take the train from the ‘burbs to see me. Occasionally we’d all be in the apartment together. From the start, I could tell that Faye wasn’t too crazy about Jason. Continue reading →