Illustrating the power of Friendship Paradox

It is no secret that I have come to love this theory a lot. I have been having conversations around this topic with my friends & family. While they seem to understand it, I was not sure if they share my level of appreciation for it.  

And hence, I have come up with an example to illustrate the exponential power & beauty of network topology - the friendship paradox. An imaginary story like illustration inspired by something I saw on TV...

Let's assume you are a small business owner. Your immediate network of friends comprises mostly of really clean & straightforward folks. Except for one Mr. ABC. ABC is the worst crook in your network. However, even he happens to be a very small time crook engaging in really benign stuff.

Now ABC being a crook (albeit a small time one), his network will not only have more crooks than yours but also have bigger crooks than yours. So let's assume XYZ is the biggest crook in ABC's network. XYZ happens to be a drug peddler.
XYZ's network of crooks is now likely to bigger & badder. So let's assume the worst crook in XYZ's network is a cold blooded hitman, a murderer!
Now that we have drawn out the general topology of our friendship network, let's delve into a particular scenario. For argument's sake, lets imagine that for a while you have been thinking about some little tax evasion tactic that could help you save $$. You look at your network to see who might the best person to liaise with & determine that ABC is your best bet (given that everybody is really clean). You consult ABC & also engage him to actually get this done.

ABC in turn casually chats about you & your little "escapade" with XYZ. In fact ABC is much closer to XYZ than yourself & you didn't even know about it. XYZ gets this really brilliant idea to use your business as a shell to peddle some drugs without your own knowledge & they actually end up doing it.

One fine day, you discover whats going on & confront ABC (still not knowing how close he is to XYZ & not fully aware of the depth of their networks). XYZ gets the help of the worst crook in his network, the hitman to take care of you. This could very well be the end of your life. End of story!

If you think the above story is too dark, lets take a step back & stop with XYZ. Even then, you could very well end up getting arrested not just for tax fraud but also for peddling drugs!

In any case, in short, by the exponential power of the topology of your friendship network, your actions could get amplified way beyond your imagination.

Here I am re-citing the original article that I had shared on facebook. This article explains the theory really beautifully...

I personally want to read & re-read this concept so that hopefully every time I take an action, I am reminded that the consequences could be exponentially amplified.

Also every time I form new associations, hopefully I am reminded that it is in fact these associations that determine the magnitude & the direction of the amplification.

I have used a rather dark example to make the point. But that same applies to nice things too. If you can think of or cook up a positive illustration, do kindly share.

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