Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Better than me anyway

Deadheads are familiar with various types of social exclusion.
After posting bits on FaceBook and the blog about the Open Source Vehicle (below) I began to experience an awkward feeling of nagging doubt. The kit car that I was so impressed with yesterday probably meant little or nothing to most of my friends or family, they simply either wouldn’t get it or really care about it. It would  not interest them, fair enough, but still meant something to me. A project I could enthuse about but one that left the rest of the civilised world... happily cold. That’s a kind of weird feeling; knowing that your own tastes and interests are not so neat a fit with those of the people around you. It can make a person anxious, insular and affect your confidence but it can also make you feel individual and unique, (“special” isn’t the best word to use here).  In general nobody really wants to be out of step - unless you’re a psycho or well along on the “high performing sociopath” spectrum or just geeky about grammar. So I’m now unsure to what extent I may or may not need the drip feed of validation from social media, I guess I do, in trickles. Knowing this doesn’t really help either as it has the ring of awkward truth about it but as a plus it must mean I’m still self aware enough not to be crazy. I have a reference point.

Scientists have published the first mathematical proof explaining the reason that it always seems that everyone else is doing better than you – because (on average) they really are. In other words, there is a genuine logical excuse for anyone who wonders why they don’t seem to have as many friends on FB or followers on Twitter as everyone else. You don’t and that’s because you’re you.

Scientists from universities in France and Finland claim that their discovery is based on the “generalized friendship paradox” (GFP). This reveals that most people have only a small number of friends. However, a handful of people have a significantly greater number of friends. It is this second category that distorts how you regard your friendship group as a whole. They say their study doesn't just apply to friendship and can also be related to wealth, the number of sexual partners people have and how successful they are. 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.” They said that while we will naturally be biased towards thinking ourselves “worse” when we compare ourselves to our so-called “better” friends, the same still applies “compared to the average friend”.
Referring to previous studies which showed active FB users describing themselves as less happy on average than others; “This might be the reason why active online social networking service users are not happy – when it is much easier to compare to other people.” So, don't get annoyed the next time your friend posts a picture of an engagement, a new car or a status about a promotion. Statistically speaking, they were always going to be better than you anyway.


  1. Yet another excellent post that puts my witterings to shame!

  2. Thanks but not at all, I can never compete with your lists and inventory or your work rate and output. Then there's the original photos...