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Posts Tagged ‘Sociology’

Replacing half your friends every 7 years – and the tattoo consequences

June 8, 2011 8 comments

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about the research undertaken in the Netherlands which concluded that most people replace half of their friends every 7 years. It was brought to my attention by a couple of on-line friends – Jordi Robert-Ribes and Ben Wirtz – who both happened to raise it when we met up in the real-world for the first time. Maybe they were both hinting there was only a 50:50 chance we would still be in contact in 7 years … or less!

The research came out of a project in Holland called “Where friends are made. Context, Contacts, Consequences,” and was set up by Beate Völker. Beate doesn’t seem that keen on connecting – she has one of those Twitter accounts with protected Tweets! The actual research was run by Sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst of Utrecht University (not on Twitter at all!). It always baffles me when

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Sociologists/Anthropologist/academics don’t “come out to play” in the world of social media.

Mollenhorst conducted a survey of 1,007 people aged from 18 to 65. He contacted them twice – with a 7 year gap in between. From the original group, 604 people answered on both occasions. The survey contained questions such as: Who do you talk with, regarding personal issues? Who helps you with DIY in your home? Who do you pop by to see? Where did you get to know that person? And where do you meet that person now?

The results showed that personal network sizes seemed to remained stable, but that many members of the network were new. About 30 percent of discussion partners and practical helpers had the same position in a typical person’s Personal Network seven years later. The big finding was that only 48 percent of the original contacts were still part of the network.

I have thought for a while that this was interesting research – and it became more relevant after I saw the video of a lady – Suzy (also from the Netherlands) – making a permanent record of her 152 Facebook Friends in the form of a tattoo!

Currently the video has been watched by over 300,000 people. It’s not getting as many likes as dislikes – as I write the score is 511 likes to 1,018 dislikes. Let’s hope that there are not too many of her friends in the disklikes.

Well, Suzy is on-target with the work of Robin Dunbar. She’s bang on with 152 friends and his Dunbar Number of 150. However, she might have also given some thought to the work of her fellow Netherlander Gerald Mollenhorst. She’s in for a lot more than a 7 year itch!

[UPDATE – Tattoo story was a hoax (a good one at that) – changing 50% of friends every 7 years was not! More at CBS News]

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Reflexivity – I liked the word so much, I bought the domain name!

May 30, 2011 3 comments

Reading Mrs Moneypenny’s column in the Financial Times is a regular weekend treat. The FT Weekend is the only printed newspaper that I buy each week – and her column is a must read.

Mrs M’s columns can seldom be judged by their titles. This week it’s called “Me, go on a diet? Fat chance”. At the end of the article is a mention of Lynda Gratton’s book “The Shift”. Mrs M tells me she is an expert on the future of work – so I couldn’t resist an explore.

As regular readers will know, as well as extolling the value of Personal Networks – my blog posts track many areas of life. They also touch on my personal quest to find

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a new life after funemployment.

Lynda’s view on life and work is a hit with me – and I’ve only watched her promotional video clip (below) and read the first few chapters of her book (I will do a review when I’ve finished it).

http://vimeo.com/22283151

I liked her focus in the video on three big shifts in thinking:-

=> Forget about being a generalist – learn mastery
=> It’s not about competing – build relationships with your “posse”
=> Decide on the life you want to lead – work to do exciting productive stuff

It encouraged me to download the book and start to read. I’m hooked…

Most importantly, I found a new, cool word to add to my vocabulary “REFLEXIVITY”. It’s hard to find a good definition of “reflexivity”. Wikipedia gives much more than its usual definition – and has different angles from Sociology, Economics and Anthropology! The one I liked the most was from Lynda – “the invention of the self through debate and self-reflection.” She also talks about what she calls “The Rise of Reflexivity”:-

“As families become rearranged, and work groups become increasingly diverse, so people begin to think more deeply about themselves, what is important to them and the lives they want to construct. This reflexivity becomes crucial to understanding choices and creating energy and courage to make the tough decisions and trade-offs that will be necessary.”

In my work on Personal Networks – I seem to be tracking similar lines. I have come to the conclusion that there are probably just three elements to building a successful and enriching life:-

1. Who am I? Understanding who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, what gives you energy, what turns you off, etc. For example, I love the work of people like Usman Sheikh at Identifii (who I wrote about a few months ago) who aims to stop 75% of graduates ending up in jobs they dislike by offering no-cost/low cost psychometric testing.

2. What do I want to do? This is finding the passion in your life that means you fulfil the Confucius quotation: “Choose a job you like and you will never have to work a day in your life.” (Was that really Confucius – or just a recruitment agency advert!!??)

3. Who do I know? Having people around you who share your passion, give you energy and will be on the journey with you. Reciprocally balanced by you having the good nature to give more back than you get.

It’s worth taking time out to think and reflect on these things. Getting it right is a life’s work. Reading another article in the FT Weekend by Gillian Tett “Retire? Only in Europe …” Gillians says: “As a 43-year-old Brit, I used to assume I was halfway through my working career, but I am starting to rethink. Could “retirement” eventually turn into a quaint 20th-century idea? Could we all have more “lives” ahead of us than we realise?” A life’s work will mean working all your life.

So reflexivity should definitely be on your to-do list. Anyway, I’ve become the Victor Kiam of words – I liked it so much, I bought the domain name. Coming soon at http://reflexivity.me….

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