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Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

By Andrea Seydel Book Doula | Writing Coach | Publisher

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do


Renowned scientists Christakis and Fowler present compelling evidence for our profound influence on one another's tastes, health, wealth, happiness, beliefs, even weight, as they explain how social networks form and how they operate.

Your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse.

The authors explain why emotions are contagious, how health behaviors spread, why the rich get richer, even how we find and choose our partners. Intriguing and entertaining, Connected overturns the notion of the individuals.

Social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behaviour, politics, and much more. How you ever caught yourself saying "it's a small world" Like dominos falling one by one, we can streak information and influence behaviours and that person does so in turn the same to us.


Two aspects of social networks: 1. Connection- which has to do with who is connected to whom. 2. Contagion- which pertains to what, if anything, flows across the ties. (Germs, money, violence, fashions, happiness and even obesity.

Understanding why social networks exist and how they work requires that we understand certain rules regarding connection and contagion- We must first understand the structure and function of social networks. and how do social networks cause the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts?

Rule 1: We shape our network: homophily- unconcsuos tendency to associate with people who resemble us. (Drug addicts, coffee drinkers, bungee jumpers. We seek people who share our interest, histories, and dreams. WE HUMANS DELIBERATELY MAKE AND REMAKE OUR SOCIAL NETWORKS ALL THE TIME. We decide how many people we are connected to. We also influence how densely interconnected our friends and family are.

Rule 2: Our network Shapes us-: Our place in the network affects us. The better connected with are it reduces the number of hops you have to take from person to person to reach others in your network. (that friend that knows everything. Centrality affects everything from how much money you make to whether you will be happy.

Rule 3: Our Friends affect Us: What flows across the connections of our network is crucial. Social networks transport all kinds of things from one person to another (Water brigade). The determinant of flow is the tendency of humans being to influence and copy one another. We tend to have many direct ties to a wide variety of people, including parents, children, brothers, sisters, spouses, bosses, coworkers, neighbours, friends and so forth. (Homeowners with neighbours who garden wind up with manicured lawns. Studious roommates become more studious. Diners sitting beside heavy eaters eat more food)

Rule 4: Our Friends, friends friends, affect us: It tunes outlet people do not copy only their friends. they copy their friends , friends, friends and their friends, friends friends. (Game of telephone) Our friends and family can influence us to do things, like gain weight or show up at the polls, but their friends and family can influence us too. HYPERDYADIC SPREAD- the tendency of effects to spread from person to person to person, beyond an individuals direst social ties. Beyond dyads- two people. Sometimes things like norms and behaviours might require a process of reinforcement by multiple social contacts.

Rule 5: The Network has a Life of Its Own: Social networks can have properties and function that are neither controlled nor even perceive by the people within them. This is noticed when studying the group as a whole. Eg Traffic jam, the wave at sporting events, flocks of birds. school of fish. People can exhibit shared behaviours without explicit coordination or awareness. Emergent properties are new attributes of a whole that arise rom the interaction and interconnection of the parts.

DISCUSSION: Think about and name some of your own Social Networks and Connections. What flows through your social network? How do these networks shape you? positively? Negatively, How so?

Six Degrees of Separation and Three Degrees of Influence

Stanley Milgram 's Experiment showing that people are all connected to one another by an average of "six degrees of separation"-- Your Friend is one degree from you, you friends friend is two degrees, and so on. The number of hops it takes to get to someone they targeted on average takes six hops.

Just because we are connected to everyone else by six degrees of separation does not mean that we hold say over all of these people. the spread of INFLUENCE in social networks obeys the THREE DEGREES OF INFLUENCE RULE-- Everything we do or say tends to ripple through our network, having an impact on our friends, one degree, our friends friends, two degrees, and even our friends, friends, friends, three degrees.

Our influence greadually dissipates and ceases tobhae noticeable effect on people beyond three degrees of separations. Likewise we are influenced by friends within three degrees. Three degrees apply to: Attitudes, Feelings, behaviours and it appplies to the spread of political views, weight gain, and even happiness.

THREE REAONS OUR INFLUENCE IS LIMITED: 1. Like a people drop in waters it eventually peters out. Intrinsic-decay explanation. 2. Unavoidable evolution in the network makes the links unstable. (fiends stop being friends/ neighbours move. Network-instability explanation. 3. Evolutionary biology may play a part. Simply only surrounded by small groups. Not in a large group long enough to have influence. Evolutionary purpose explanation.

Bottom line: THe Three Degrees Rules appears to be an important part of the way human social networks function. If we are connected to everyone else by six degrees and we can influence them up to three degrees, then one way to think about ourselves is that each of us can reach about half way to everyone else on the planet. Even when we are restricted to three degrees, the extent of our effects on others is extraordinary. We are connected to thousands of People. Connection and contagion are the structure and function of social networks. We offer contagion three degrees of influence but everyone has the same three degrees of influence.

******CONSIDER/DISCUSSION- Considering the idea of connectedness and how friends, friends, friends affect everything you feel, think and do- and visa versa: Given we can make and remake our social networks: How will you apply the learning today to your life?


Most of us are already aware of the direct effect we have on our friends and family, our actions can make them happy or sad, healthy or sick, even rich or poor. But We rarely consider that everything we think, feel, do or say can spread far beyond the people we know.

Conversely, our friends and family serve as conduits for us to be influenced by hundreds or even thousands of people. A SOCIAL REACTION CHAIN- As a part of a typical network we transcend ourselves for good or ill, and become a part of something much larger. WE ARE CONNECTED.

Our connectedness caries with it radical implications for the way we understand the human condition. Social networks can spread joy, the search of sexual partners, the maintenance of health, and so on. Yet, social networks effects are not always positive. Depression obesity, STD's, Panic, Violence and even viruses. SOCIAL NETWORKS TEND TO MAGNIFY WHATEVER THEY ARE SEEDED WITH!!!

We need to strive to make sure our social networks remain healthy and productive. Social networks require tending, by individuals, by groups, and by institutions.


1. When you smile the world smiles with you-Giggles and emotional contagion.How you feel depends on how those around you feel. Emotions "Catch" Human interactions and mimicking. Happiness is also a function of a group of people and the ripple through the social connections.

2. Love the One You're With- Poople rely heavily on friends and family for all kinds of relationships. We have stronger ties to people we know or people that are "like' Us. Best way to grow your network is to search your current network but not so far away that you no longer have anything in common with each other. Bring similar people together. WE DON'T ACTUALLY CHOOSE OUR PARTNERS BY CHANCE. Best way to find Mr. Or Mrs. Right is to have some help from your network. Social networks being likes together and serve up soul mates in the same room.

3. Social networks function in large part by giving us access to what flows within them. For example: Getting married to an educated, rich, or healthy spouse is better for our health than marriage to a person lacking these qualities. We can become better able to provide useful information, social support and offer a flow of love and affection. THINK ABOUT THE QUALITIES OF THE PEOPLE TO WHOM WE ARE CONNECTING!!

4. Conversely: What qualities do we bring to our own network? (Spreading Germs). Change what we do or change what we think? People usually imitate each other. If you start a running program then your fiend might copy you and start running. Think about behaviour imitation: HOW DOES IT IMPACT YOU? HOW DOES IT IMPACT OTHERS?

5. Notice the "mood" Of your various connections? Where do you want to shift towards or away? Where do you want to weaken ties? Where do you want to take advantage of making stronger ties?

6. Spread Goodness- All for one and one for all.

Unconventional Bookclub Host:

Andrea Seydel- Books Change Lives- Who's Life Will You Impact With Your Book? (Book Doula- Writing Coach- Publisher)

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