Day 25 — Network Inequality

Building on the theme from a couple of days ago...

Until I got to college, I thought "building a network" was overrated. Nobody I knew was insanely well-connected. Things were local. You might have a cool family member that's doing big things in a different state, but really, 90% of people's networks (in my circle) were local.

Then I got to Northwestern. That was... a crazy, eye-opening experience. Parents were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and famous media moguls. People actively networked. Students were going out of their way to meet people for the sole purpose of growing their network.

Studies show that a weak social network is an extremely strong explanatory variable for low social mobility and economic inequality.

That makes sense: if everyone around you is in the same economic situation, you'll lack the stepping stones or the guidance to move upward.

In my eyes, this problem is only getting worse. Just as wealth breeds more wealth, networks breed larger networks. Social media is a huge culprit here. It is much easier for someone with 10,000 Twitter followers to reach 100,000 than it is for someone with 100 followers to reach 1,000.

As the internet makes the world bigger, it just gets easier for the "well-networked" to grow even larger, more high-quality networks.

Something I'm thinking about.