Your Friends Are Shinier, Happier, Richer Than You


Your friends are different than you and I. According to pesky math and irritating logic, they are happier, richer, and more popular.

The friendship paradox says that — because of the way social networks work —one's friends will always have (on average) more friends than oneself. Now network scientists have expanded the paradox to include traits other than empirical social success, like happiness and wealth. Truly, they are blessed and you should consider yourself richer (in spirit) and happier (in fake smiles) by just being among them.

The argument — from Young-Ho Eom at the University of Toulouse in France and Hang-Hyun Jo at Aalto University in Finland — might not be water-tight, but it's an intriguing theory. This is from the MIT Technology Review:

That has significant implications for the way people perceive themselves given that their friends will always seem happier, wealthier and more popular than they are. And the problem is likely to be worse in networks where this is easier to see. “This might be the reason why active online social networking service users are not happy,” say Eom and Jo, referring to other research that has found higher levels of unhappiness among social network users.

Certainly, the Internet magnifies this business, but it is a long-standing American tradition to complain about everyone having it easier than them, so this paradox is likely as old as the sun and as timeless as the fake-friend frenemy.