Recently in Social networks Category

Family Dinners

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I really enjoyed these articles. I have always believed that family dinners are important, but I didn't realize just how much of an impact they have. It was fascinating to me that family dinners could have an impact on someone's grades, and I also thought it was interesting that girls who eat alone consume unhealthier foods.
The article concerning television during dinnertime was surprising. At home, my mother would always harp about having the TV on during dinnertime. She thought that it was really distracting and took away from the experience of eating together.
My family ate dinner together 5-7 times a week, and I miss eating dinner with them. Most of the time we would have the TV turned on in order to watch national and local news, and that would spark some interesting conversation. When the TV wasn't on, we'd make small chat about various activities that had taken place throughout the day. My mom always made sure that dinner was a healthy balance of fruit, veggies, carbs, and protein. I can't wait to go home for Thanksgiving and sit down for a home-cooked meal.
The cohabitation article made perfect sense to me. It came as no surprise that partners adapted their eating habits in order to have a more cohesive dietary lifestyle. I remember my dad talking about how his food choices as a bachelor were limited to canned and boxed foods, spaghetti, grilled cheese, and salmon. To this day whenever he cooks for the family, he will make either spaghetti or salmon.
For the homework assignment, I decided to eat soup without a spoon. Usually, I don't even eat soup, so that caught people's eyes. After the soup had cooled a bit, I picked it up with both hands and sipped it out of the cup. My friends looked at me a little funny, and one asked if I forgot a spoon. Nonchalantly, I said no, and continued eating my soup.

Social Impacts on Health

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This article brought to light subjects that I had never really thought in-depth about. The opening statistics and scenario about Rockdale County was quite concerning. The fact that so many individuals of the teenage population were not only engaging in unprotected sex but also managing to catch syphilis - at such high percentages - was shocking. It made sense when they mentioned concepts such as the more partners one had, the more at risk they were for catching an STD; additionally, it wasn't surprising that the spread was more concentrated in the center of the circle. But what I found really interesting about this section was the concept of the ties and how they affect the spread of STDs. When the article discussed the fact that if Person A and Person B were both three jumps away from the person infected, if Person A removed a tie they would still run the risk of getting it, whereas if Person B did they would not be at risk.
The second portion of the article, dealing with weight, somewhat surprised me. In class, we have discussed how if one's partner is healthy, the individual tends to be healthy as well. But I wouldn't have thought that other people (whom the individual wasn't attached to in any way) would also have an effect on their eating habits. I found it really interesting when the section talked about Farmington and the study they had done there. I never would have thought about the fact that researchers could construct a social network on paper and have that be accurate - it just seems out of the norm as far as my research knowledge goes. The fact that they then looked at if people were mutual friends or not and then gauged weight gain based on that was very interesting. After thinking of it in that perspective, the fact that individuals influence each other's' weight makes sense - hanging out with my more athletic and health-conscious friends causes me to worry more about what I am eating than if we are all hanging out eating a pizza. Possibly the most interesting part of the section was when it explained the concept of behavioral imitation and contagious yawning and laughter. Why yawning is "contagious" has always been something I was interested in knowing, so it was interesting to note that it was due to social standards.
The next section discussed drinking and smoking, and here I was a bit more skeptical in their claim that this was affected by your friends. While weight gain is something I can see as being an unconscious behavior (simply eating more/unhealthily without realizing it), smoking or drinking isn't something you just do unconsciously. I personally feel that, although there certainly is a correlation between who you hang out with and the likelihood of you doing these activities, I believe that this is more of a situation that after you've begun, it's easier to associate yourself with people who do the same activities as you do.
I found the portion regarding suicide really sad. I was extremely surprised when the article said that hearing the more emotionally charged television report made people more inclined to attempt suicide - I would think that suicide would be a non-socially impacted occurrence.
I found the final section of the reading to be a very impactful way to end the section. "Particularly in the United States, we are accustomed to seeing our destinies as largely in our own hands: we "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" and believe that "anyone can strike it rich." We see our society as a meritocracy that rewards sound choices and creates opportunities for the well prepared." This thought process is very much so true in the United States...and this article was an interesting read as it disputed these common American ideals in all ways.

Changing What We Do or What We Think?

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As the chapter says, "In real life, we measure ourselves against our friends." This is the overall theme I saw in the chapter throughout the many topics it covered. The one that most interested me (besides the disturbing and shocking STD statistics) were the eating habits. I thought it was interesting the examples they gave of people who never have seen each other in real life but somehow through mutual people can affect weight gain. The indirect perceptions people take in and give off is something I never considered before. Obviously, the other factors in the changing weight norms are huge but they are more publicized. I had never thought about the idea that how I see someone's weight changing could affect the way I treat a different friend about her health and diet without the two ever coming into contact with each other.
The more well known way of spreading eating habits is imitation and this has never been so present in my life as it is now in dining halls. I hate many things about dining halls. There is always the pressure to take similar foods and portion sizes to whoever you are with, on either side of the extreme spectrum. Desserts are easier to take if people around you take one. Also, there tends to be the "I'm so fat" talk. Girls love to either bash how much food they did take or complain about how little food they took. Either way it adds up to asking for reassurance that they are not fat or sending a message to someone else at the table. Unhealthy patterns thrive in this environment, eating too little and eating too much. It is imitation at its most obvious state.

Social Influence

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I found the beginning of the chapter regarding the epidemic of STDs to be very shocking. As I read on and thought about it though, its unfortunately very true. The chapter talked about the "norms" that are formed within a social network that make those within the network believe acting a certain way is acceptable. I think this could also be applied to the increase in teenage pregnancies. At the high school in a town I used to live in it became expected that at least one person in each grade that graduated from my middle school would get pregnant sometime during their high school career. This was a smaller town and the middle school I attended was private making the social network even smaller and more interconnected. People were used to seeing girls getting pregnant in high school and it became almost socially acceptable. As far as the topic of obesity and how our friends and friends' friends affect our weight, I also found this to make a lot of sense. When I see my friends gaining weight or that they're eating a huge meal I feel much more comfortable about the couple of "winter pounds" I might put on or the fact that I just ate something really unhealthy.
The good side of this research on how we are influenced by our social networks is that it shows the importance of surrounding one's self with good positive influences. Though you can't control who your friends are friends with, you can at least choose who you are going to directly connect yourself with.

This Hurts Me As Much As It Hurts You

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I've heard the expression that you are who you hang out with, but I didn't realize how accurate this statement was until I read this article. I read this article this morning when I woke up and took mental notes throughout the day that related to this topic. It became most prevalent while in the dining hall. This may only be true for my friend group but the closer the friends the more similar they ate. I never noticed it before but in the article they mentioned how if you have a friend who is obese you are three times as likely to become obese as well. A lot of this makes perfect sense to me. Your friend may go out to eat all the time and if you want to hang out, a restaurant may be a place to meet. What I found shocking was that your spouse is less likely to influence some of your habits than your friends of the same gender. This made me think of what we talked about in previous discussions about attachment, marriage, and gender differences. Initially I assumed that a lot of the influence would come from your spouse, especially considering that men generally become a lot healthier after marriage. But the more I thought about gender differences it made a lot more sense. The article went into detail about alcohol and tobacco consumption and how women are more likely to take up the same habits if one of their female friends does. My theory is that women will talk with each other and justify why they're starting to increase their consumption.. then their friends will start to become okay with that and potentially make the same decisions. Men don't usually talk about their problems and if a guy starts to drink more than usual, his guy friends are less likely to ask what the main issue is behind it and therefore may just see his binge drinking differently.
I was surprised that the article didn't really go into detail about how the technological advances have impacted social networking. When I hear the term 'social networking' the first thing I think of is Facebook. I'm curious to know how reading friends statuses affect people's behavior. Do we see these things how we see celebrities (an imaginary relationship)? I would be really interested to learn about some of those studies if there are any.

Response to This Hurts me as much as it Hurts You

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I thought the study about the obesity epidemic was interesting, but also kind of common sense. You can easily see it demonstrated at the university how your weight is impacted by other people. I said I would start working out once I started school, and the only times I have is when other people asked me to go with them. Depending on who you are with determines where you eat, a healthier place like a sub shop or somewhere that has burgers and greasy fries. It seems like there aren't as many fat people at this school as there are other places, which shows how us students spending time together may influence each other to be healthier like the article says. However, people influencing you can only go so far. I think that your genes probably have a larger effect than other people do.
I think the part about smoking was really interesting, and I can say it's true in regard to my life. I started smoking a little over a year ago, when I was dating a guy who smoked a lot. Before him I smoked occasionally, but I became a "smoker" probably a month into our relationship. He never pressured me to smoke, never made me feel bad if I didn't smoke, but when I was with him I always found myself smoking, just because he was. I wasn't trying to impress him, but seeing someone have a cigarette makes me want one. I passed my smoking habit to my best friend. This summer, her and I tried quitting together. We were both doing good until we were at her birthday party and some of her other friends were smoking. She caved first and I followed her. Being at this university has had an effect on my smoking, I see many less people smoking here than I would at my high school or workplace, and I smoke way less.

How Social Ties Affect You

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A lot of what this chapter said made sense. Whenever my friends and I go to the dining hall, we're all affected by what the rest of us eat. Sometimes I'll go with the intention of eating a more healthy meal, like a salad, but after I see my friends getting a piece of pizza or going back for seconds, I'm pressured into doing it myself. In addition to that, the other day I was sitting in my room with a couple friends and we were just hanging out and snacking on some food. My friend reached for more snacks when I told her to stop because she kept making me want to do the same. This isn't something that happens to me subconsciously. I know what I'm doing when it happens, but it doesn't necessarily stop me. As I read the chapter, it kept making me think of "The Pregnancy Pact" that hit the media a couple years back. For those of you who don't know, it was a situation in which a bunch of girls decided to get pregnant together after a seeing another girl at their school get pregnant and the attention that went along with it. It doesn't follow all of the parts that the article discussed, but the social ties we have can completely change our outlook on things. Not every one of those girls had considered getting pregnant. It must've started as one who then convinced another and so on and so forth. The chapter says that people's views on obesity change, and that what we once thought was obese may alter our view based on those around us. The same is true with the pregnancy pact. After they see one girl where it didn't seem so bad, the rest thought it would be okay and that it would even be fun. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1816486,00.html

Ways of networking

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In the passage it says that there are many ways to "network" with people. But because of these networks it can cause many negative affects that can spread to other people. Many of the ways is through sex, obesity, smoking, drinking, and suicide. It says that these can be contagious and spread to other people even indirectly. From my point of view I find that obesity can be contagious. It says you can get fat from your friend's friend without ever meeting them. The passage about suicide being contagious because of the "idea" of it makes sense though. From my experience, I attended my friend funeral because he took his own life. It never made sense because he was all set to go to college but not long after we all graduated from High school, he gave up. At the funeral everyone was very sad and the idea of our friend taking his life can be contagious. But if we just think of all of the good times ands how glad we were to have him in our lives then maybe we can just appreciate our life a little more. I think that group suicides is the stupidest thing ever. Why would anyone be sucked into that because of an idea?

I don't have a "network" as far as I know but at least I try consciously to not let other people influence me on what they do. Sure if they have good habits like my friends love eating vegetables, it makes me want to eat more vegetables too. I will only copy good habits not the bad habits. Even though there could be a new "norm" that could affect me, it will just happen because teenagers are young and are just trying to find themselves and wanting to fit in with people to make friends. That's what I think about the sex network one. Like the little 6th graders just had sex with older guys because they thought it was "cool" or "norm" at the time. Like maybe they were competing how many sex partners they can get. The "network" is interesting because it can affect us indirectly at any time.

Connectivity and Christakis

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As I read this article, the importance of human interaction once again impressed me. It is truly astounding that an individual can be so heavily influenced by other to change extremely personal habits such as sexual activity and eating pattern that have such an impact on one's health. I am not implying that we should completely disregard other individual's behavior. As mentioned in the chapter, people can have a positive influence on spheres such as exercise and eating habits. Personally, I have noticed such changes in my diet: Previously, I wasn't much of a salad eater. However, since frequenting the dining halls with people who eat more salads, I have begun to do so as well. It's safe to say that this change in behavior isn't going to have a negative impact on my health, but one cannot assume that people are consistently and accurately able to distinguish which behaviors may have an unfavorable impact on their physical and or mental health.
In the section "Changing What We Do, or Changing What We Think?" there was a quote from Ellen Goodman that read, "But in real life we measure ourselves against our friends. Inch by inch," and another section that mentioned how "social networks also play an important role." Recently, I read an article that confirms these statements. A study was done that showed social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook have a greater impact on how girls perceive their body image as opposed to television shows or magazines. Here is a link that for the full article (it should be free to download in PDF format):

http://psycnet.apa.org.ezp2.lib.umn.edu/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/0012-1649.44.4.1124

Finally, I found the part about suicide especially disturbing. The fact that girls with a friend who had killed themself were two-and-a-half times more likely to contemplate killing themselves and twice as likely to do it is upsetting in the extreme, and someone close to me is proof that this statistic is real. A friend of this individual attempted suicide, and months later, the individual in question also attempted suicide. While it cannot be said that the individual I know attempted suicide solely because her friend also attempted suicide, it is safe to say that the friend's suicide attempt did have an impact on the individual's decision to attempt suicide.
All in all, human company is a powerful thing, and people should be aware of that. I'm not advocating living like a hermit in the middle of the forest in order to avoid any influence at all. Rather, one should keep a critical eye on how the behaviors of others are affecting their own habits.

This Hurts Me as Much as it Hurts You

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This chapter was really interesting to read. The beginning paragraphs were incredibly shocking. Fourteen year olds had fifty or more sex partners? That's ridiculous. It's weird how norms can change so drastically. Especially that of sex, because I feel like it can be a big deal. But I don't think parents like to talk about it a lot, which could be a cause for the changing norms. I find it kind of hard that the kids had this big of a change just because they suffered from not having much structure, supervision, or anything else to do. I feel like drugs and other things would have come up besides sex.
It's scary thinking that my risk of illness isn't just based on my behavior and what I do but what other people do and their behaviors. I also found it interesting how they found that STD's spread differently among different races. I wouldn't have thought that would have been so easy to see and notice.
The obesity thing is kind of worrying. Since in college there's the whole "freshman 15" and I really don't want that to happen to me. But I hang out with a lot of guys who eat like that and my female friends aren't completely the healthiest either. But it's reassuring that we're more susceptible to peers who are the same sex as us, otherwise I couldn't handle eating like a teenage guy. It was really interesting how norms can spread even if they don't affect a person's behavior, but it can affect their friends behavior instead. It's so weird to think how we're all affected by things and we're not even aware of it!
The smoking thing wasn't too shocking, it made a lot of sense. However to me I always saw smokers as having a lot of friends and not being unpopular. But that could be due to just how there's always the cliche of smoking making you look cool. To me it was kind of humorous about the sudden binge drinking in the UK. The binge drinking reminded me of just a typical weekend in college in the US.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Social networks category.

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