Connected : The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives
Connected will forever change the way we look at one another -- and at ourselves
- Happiness is contagious.
- Your future spouse is likely to be your friend's friend.
- Your friends' friends' friends can make you fat -- or thin.
These are just a few of the startling findings of internationally renowned scientists Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler. In Connected, they present intriguing new evidence that our real-life social networks shape virtually every aspect of our lives. How we feel, whom we marry, whether we fall ill, how much money we make, and whether we vote -- everything hinges on what others around us are doing, thinking, and feeling.
Connected shows that our world is governed by the Three Degrees Rule -- we influence and are influenced by people up to three degrees removed from us, most of whom we do not even know. For example, your friend's friend's friend has more impact on your happiness than $5,000 in your pocket. Our social networks underlie financial scams, eating disorders, substance abuse, and suicide clusters, but also voter turnout, innovation, altruism, and "random" acts of kindness.
Provocative, insightful, and useful, Connected explains why emotions are contagious, how health behaviors spread, why the rich get richer, and much more. Overturning the notion of the primacy of the individual, Connected provides a revolutionary new paradigm -- that, like schools of fish changing direction in unison, we are consciously and unconsciously led by the people around us..
Harvard professor and health care policy specialist Christakis (Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care) became interested in social connectivity when observing that the mortality rate of spouses spike after a partner passes away. Christakis sought out a collaboration with Fowler, a health systems and political scientist, and together they compare topology (the hows of a given structure) across different social networks to better explain how participation and positioning enhances the effectiveness of an individual, and why the "whole" of a network is "greater than the sum of its parts." Five basic rules describe the relationship between individuals and their networks-including mutual adaptation, the influence of friends and friends' friends, the network's "life of its own"-but the results do more than promote the good of the group: they also spread contagions; create "epidemics" of obesity, smoking and substance abuse; disseminate fads and markets; alter voting patterns; and more. A thorough but popular take on a complex phenomenon, this volume offers an entertaining guide to the mechanics and importance of human networking. 13 b/w illustrations, 8-page color insert.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Little, Brown and Company
September 26, 2009
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