Your Friends Are Probably More Popular, Richer, and Happier Than You

alone, lonely

Do you ever feel like your friends are more popular, richer, and happier than you?

Well it turns out they probably are. But don’t go home and cry yourself to sleep, because paradoxically this is somehow true for almost everyone.

Two social network scientists, Young-Ho Eom at the University of Toulouse and Hang-Hyun Jo at Aalto University in Finland, have figured out a simple mathematical explanation for why.

The friendship paradox

The fact that most of our friends have more friends than we do is old news. Scott Feld figured out in the 90s that most people have fewer friends than their friends. He called it the friendship paradox.

Compare the number of friends one person has to the average number of friends their friends have, and the second number is always bigger. Most of us only have a few friends, but some people that have tons of friends. It’s those super-popular people that creates the paradoxical effect.

It makes sense when you think about it: People who have a ton of friends are more likely to be your friend in the first place. They have a greater tendency to make friends. People with a lot of friends drive the average number of friends up in tons of other people’s social networks because they are connected to so many other social networks.

In the image below you can see the paradox illustrated. Sue has the most friends and is driving the average up among the group. The number above each name is how many friends each girl has, the number in parentheses is the average number of friends her friends have.

Everyone but Sue and Alice, who are the super-popular girls, has fewer friends than their friends do.

friendship paradoxYou can apply the same idea to online social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The people a person follows on Twitter almost always have more followers than they do, because we are more likely to follow users who are popular.

The same is true for intimacy. Your sexual partners have probably had more partners than you have. The more partners someone has the more likely they are to eventually become your partner.

But how do network scientists know that our friends are not just more popular than us, they’re richer and happier too? It turns out the friendship paradox not only applies to the sheer numbers of a given social network, it applies to other characteristics of the group too.

Other characteristics of a social network follow the same paradox

Eom and Jo have worked out the mathematical conditions under which a characteristics like wealth and happiness of a social group will follow the same trend as the friendship paradox. Their paper was published on the open access pre-publication database arXiv.

The scientists examined the networks of physicists and “network scientists” like themselves, counting how many co-authors each scientist had on papers they had written. True to the friendship paradox each scientist’s co-authors had a higher average number of co-authors than they did.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Your co-authors not only have more co-authors than you, they also have more citations and more publications. Eom and Jo are calling this the generalized friendship paradox (GFP). The scientists suggest that other features of social networks, like wealth and happiness, are likely to behave the same way as citations and publications.

They call these “high characteristics” and they have a positive correlation with the number of friends of friends, i.e. your friends are wealthier and happier than you. These kinds of characteristics of a social network follow the same kind of pattern that we see in the original friendship paradox, the scientists say, and it happens because we’re looking at a biased sample of our friends.

This paradox can make us feel bad about ourselves

“When we compare our characteristics like popularity, income, reputation, or happiness to those of our friends, our perception of ourselves might be distorted as expected by the GFP,” Eom and Jo say in the paper.

It’s similar to going to the gym and feeling like the most out of shape person there. The reason that everyone around you is so in shape is because they’re at the gym all the time — that’s why you’re seeing them. Everyone else is at home relaxing and not getting in shape. You’re looking at a very biased sample of people.

In our social networks we are seeing a group biased toward those that are more socially-active. Wealth and happiness likely follow the same pattern — we see a biased sampling of those characteristics too. So when we look at our friends we see a group of people that are much more popular, wealthy, and happy and it has a big impact on how we perceive ourselves.

Online social networks make it even easier to see how much better off our well-off friends are.

There are several studies showing that heavy online social network users are actually less happy than lighter users, and the researchers think constantly seeing updates from this biased sample of friends that are more popular, wealthy, and happy than them could be the reason.

So next time you’re worrying about the number of twitter followers you have or how much happier your friends seem than you, remember that most people are in the same boat.

SEE ALSO: Blame Your Brain If You Don’t Have A Lot Of Friends

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Man Who Showed Off His Illegal Drug Haul On YouTube Was, Obviously, Arrested

William Bradley YouTube Drugs

A helpful reminder: showcasing your extensive drug collection in a YouTube video probably isn’t going to help you avoid the law. 

Just ask William Bradley, who was arrested Monday after police discovered a video channel filled with videos of the drugs he was allegedly collecting.

BetaBeat reports the Connecticut man called his grow house the “Hope Garden” and “shot video tours of this magical kingdom that not only contained marijuana, but hashish, oxycodone and cocaine.”

NBC4 showed the video below, where Bradley claims he has an abundance of weed and wants to get it out to the people who need it most (for medicinal purposes). Bradley describes himself as a cancer patient as well.

The kicker? Police say were able to identify him because he would routinely appear in his own videos asking for donations.

And then he gave out his home address.

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Christina Ricci Inspires New Selfie Trend #Riccing After Squeezing Into A Fridge

We’ve seen planking, milking, Tebowing, Jennifer Lawrencing, the Selfie Olympics, group selfies known as “usies,” and now, ladies and gentlemen, we have #Riccing.

The new selfie trend is inspired by 5’1 actress Christina Ricci, who is so petite she can fit in washer, dryers, and refrigerators!

But #Riccing went viral Tuesday after the actress appeared on “Live With Kelly and Michael.” The morning show hosts took note of Ricci’s tweets and did a few poses of their own.

“Kelly fits in tiny places! #Riccing under her desk. Christina Ricci”  

“Look who else fits in tiny places!! Lol Michael #Riccing under a table. #ChristinaRicci.” For the record, Strahan is 6 foot 5 inches. Since then, many people have embraced the trend.

SEE ALSO: Jennifer Lawrence’s Golden Globes Dress Has Become An Internet Meme

MORE: The 12 Most Extreme Selfies From The 2014 Selfie Olympics

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The Key to Kickstarter Success Involves Cats. Lots of Cats.



Crowfunding is among the most successful internet-native industries, but that does not preclude it from classic marketing tools.

A recent study from researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology found that the language used in Kickstarter campaigns affected the likelihood of a project meeting its funding goal. The study analyzed more than 45,000 Kickstarter efforts and found that certain phrases were often linked with successful campaigns

But it wasn’t just the funded projects that had words in common; failed campaigns also yielded keywords and phrases that were harbingers for failure. Read more…

More about Crowdfunding, Kickstarter, Business, and Marketing

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Not One Girl Took the AP Computer Science Test in Some States

Girls Who Code 2014

It looks like Girls Who Code is going to need to beef up its outreach.

According to College Board data compiled by Barbara Ericson, director of computing outreach and a senior research scientist at Georgia Tech, no female students took the Advanced Placement test in computer science in Mississippi, Montana, or Wyoming last year. 

Around 30,000 students took the exam and only around 20% were female, according to the analysis, and 3% were black. Just 8% were Hispanic.

Pass rates overall for these groups were also below those of white males on the AP computer science exam, Ericson told Education Week. Students in those three groups “are not taking the exam in representative numbers, but even the ones that are taking it are not necessarily passing,” she said.

Unsettling? Yes. Surprising? Maybe not.

One reason for the lack of diversity could be that computer science classes are mostly offered in suburban or private schools, which tend to not be as diverse, Ericson said. About 2,300 high schools are officially recognized by the College Board as offering AP computer science for 2013 and 2014.

Another reason is that only 17 states now accept computer science as a core math or science credit, she said.

But still. If we want to see more women in tech, then it needs to start at the high school level, or even earlier. Hopefully the numbers increase this year with programs such as Girls Who Code, and others like it.

SEE ALSO: What it’s like to be A Victoria’s Secret model who codes in her free time

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Netflix Is Sliding (NFLX)

netflix house of cards

Netflix is down 4% to $323.80.

This is being partly attributed to Verizon’s win over the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that lets Verizon charge extra fees to deliver content faster.

 The ruling against the ‘net neutrality’ rule, would potentially increase costs for Netflix.

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‘We Met On Tinder, And Now We’re Engaged!’ And Other Things No One Has Ever Said

Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter had some fun last night listing some phrases that have never been spoken out loud before (or, as Twitter knows it, “said no one ever”). Indeed, they were probably the first people to utter the words “I work hard, but not Kardashian hard!” and “Please give a big Apollo Theater welcome to Michael Bublé!”

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