The Geography of Friends and Family

My sisters and brother-in-law just finished a visit to North Carolina, so I have been thinking about a recent post on Scatterplot about “the geography of friends.” The post highlights an analysis of friendship links on Facebook from the New York Times.

The article cites existing research as showing: “The typical American lives just 18 miles from his or her mother. The typical student enrolls in college less than 15 miles from home.”

Although this is true for my sisters, who live less than 3 miles from each other and our parents in our hometown in California, I could not live much further from home. I live over 2,300 miles as the crow flies, and over 2,700 miles driving distance. Although I graduated from UC-Berkeley (30 miles from home),  I began college 2,500 miles away in Washington, DC at The American University. I haven’t lived in California since I graduated from college in 1991, and having raised kids and married a woman from North Carolina, the odds of moving back are slim.

I would think that the social networks of California Facebook users would be broader than North Carolinians, but the data show otherwise. The interactive map in the NY Times story shows that the county I grew up in is not very different from the county I currently live in. In San Mateo County, California, 54% of Facebook connections live within 50 miles of each other and 59% within 100 miles. In Forsyth County, North Carolina, those percentages are 54% and 65%. Nationally, the average is 63% within 100 miles.

Even in the world of online social networks, most people know people close to them. And people who live and work far from home are outliers.

Facebook, R.I.P.

A.J. Jacobs, in Esquire magazine, has once again published his year end obituaries. Among the sad deaths he notes for 2007:

The Street Cred of Facebook, at 4

The street cred of Facebook, a popular social-networking site, died Wednesday in St. Louis. It was four years old. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2004, Facebook gained a respectable level of hipness by catering exclusively to college students for several years. The average Facebook page included photos of awkward hugging at the bowling-alley arcade and quotes from Anchorman. It turned seriously ill in 2006 when it became open to anyone from corporate America, and finally expired when Josh Kimberling, a successful optometrist in St. Louis, created a page that included photos of his wife’s dressage horse and a quote from George Will.

Facebook? Fine by Me

So, I avoided joining Facebook for some time. In the first place, I thought it was lame for a grown-ass man to be on there. It’s for kids, not a twenty-eighteen year old like myself. In the second place, I already have a web presence for posting ideas and pictures and the like. And I have an email address if people want to communicate with me.

Well, I broke down this past week and registered and I have to say, it is quite a site. It is an awesome way to keep track of alot of people all at once and just let them know you’re thinking about them. Especially for someone like me who has moved from California to Wisconsin to Indiana to Virginia back to Indiana and now to North Carolina. It will make it so much easier to keep track of people I thought I would probably lose track of.

So, let the haters hate on us old timers crashing Facebook. It’s fine by me.