All posts tagged: connection

Primary relationships impact personal network structures

In my post “Change over time“, I hypothesised that coupling up and separating with someone would have a significant impact on the structure of an individual’s personal network. After my divorce many years ago, my network structure shifted from one that was compartmentalised to that of a ‘sampler’. Little did I know that I would soon have the opportunity to actually test this theory. Between 2015 and 2016, I tracked how my London social network grew from a small group of pre-existing connections to a reasonably strong support system. In the resulting graph, I emphasised the role that non-local contacts had in helping me expand my community. Now I’ve taken 2016 data and compared it to the present in a new visual: The most dramatic differences between the 2016 and 2017 visualisations are the new node sitting at the centre of the graph and the cluster of new nodes on the far right. That central node is my new partner and the cluster to the right is the portion of his London network that he has introduced to …

Celebrating friendships

After all the effort of building a dataset for The Reliants Project, it’s been great the reap the rewards with countless ways to explore and visualise the data. I’ve decided to focus first on the reliants, my closest relationships. To give readers a sense of the breadth of the group categorised as reliants, here are some reference points. They include family members I’ve known since birth, others I’ve built relationships with spanning 25+ years, as well as people I’ve gotten to know within the last year. I met an equal number through direct introductions and public events and there are even two that I met serendipitously. They are overwhelmingly male, but very diverse in terms of nationality and ethnicity. Their ages span from mid-twenties to retired, though the majority are 25-45. Almost all of them have moved internationally and have lived in the same city as me at some point, though there are a couple of exceptions. Roughly half of them are married and/or have children, however few had reached this life stage when I met them. Beyond family (2 people), two pairs have …

Change over time

If you’ve met me, you’ve probably heard me say “change is the only constant” more than a few times. It’s been incredible to reflect on how much my personal network has evolved since university. After 12 months of The Reliants Project focused on my new London network, I decided to shift focus to 3 areas inspired by that exploratory research: Building a more complex visual of my entire personal network in the hopes that it will give me a more accurate representation of change in my network over time Visualising how new connections transition between the categories of stranger, acquaintance, friend and reliant (and even loosing touch) over time Identifying how significant life events (e.g. moving, marriage, parenthood, divorce, career shifts) impact connections’ positions within the network While I gathered data over the last 15 years, it was hard to reach back beyond 2004 (introduction of Gmail) with much accuracy. Nonetheless, this data captures 2 international moves (Massachusetts to Hong Kong in 2008, Hong Kong to London in 2015), my divorce (2010), and 4 career shifts. The first time series visual I created based on that data is below (click to enlarge).  If …

The Reliants Project: 12 months

Can hardly believe it has been over a year since I moved to London! As an anniversary present, London gifted me my first truly serendipitous connection since my arrival. Until then, every new connection was the result of either a direct introduction or meeting at an event that both people intentionally attended. It’s a rare treat to meet anyone during those in between states; by accident, in public places, on transit. I treasure those moments because they often expose a ‘small world’ coincidence or a completely new, fascinating world. Additionally, I had the chance to participate in Wait But Why’s inaugural Wait But Hi event in August. Our group was even featured in their report (scroll down about 1/5th to “Some people went to restaurants…”). They asked their readers to fill out a (long) survey and then matched them in groups based on their interests and preferences. Some people were set up on individual blind dates while others participated in large group educational seminars (and many variations between). What a fascinating experiment in friendship, relationship and community building! Round up. Here are some of …

The Reliants Project: 9 months

Before we dig in to the last 3 months of findings, it’s about time for another round-up of articles and blog posts related to adult friendship that have popped up over the last six months (see last round-up here): Get Over the Stigma That Something’s Wrong With You Because You Want More Friends from Lifehacker Half of Your Friends Probably Don’t Think of You As a Friend from NY Magazine Most people aren’t resilient to life’s hardships, researchers find from Quartz The Science of Making Friends from the Wall Street Journal (paywall) Study shows people have an upper limit on the number of friends they can add to their social network from Phys.org Why Smart People are Better Off with Fewer Friends from the Washington Post Perhaps it’s priming bias, but it feels like this collective conversation has picked up steam over the last year. It also seems as though these conversations share many parallels with the “Future of Work” and “global nomad” macro trends. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Esko Kilpi, who is a leading researcher in this emerging …

The Reliants Project: 6 months

It’s been 3 more months and I feel like I have more questions than answers. No doubt a more dynamic visualisation tool would be incredibly useful, but I also feel that the information I’m keeping track of is incomplete. Just to remind readers (and myself) why I am doing this, my goal is understand how adults make friends they can rely on by tracking my own experience building a personal network after moving to a new city. I call this type of friend a “reliant” in honour of my new home, London. Relocation is one of the most jarring experiences for individuals and often results in significant changes to their personal network. It’s also increasingly common. reliant   /re·li·ant/   noun. 1. a British car manufacturer. 2. a person on which someone depends. Here’s the visualisation as it stands today, 6 months into my journey. As before, the data has been anonymised by removing labels. If you’re interested in the first 3 months, I wrote about them here. Connections are categorised into 4 groups: local contacts, non-local contacts, local reliants …

The building blocks of trust

Yesterday I launched a fundraiser for the extended Tamang family in Thulo Syabru, Nepal on You Caring and sent it out through my social network. Amazingly, the campaign has raised 30% of the goal in 24 hours and we owe a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. Several people reached out in response to the donation request with questions like, “how can you ensure that the funds are delivered successfully to the intended recipient?” or “how will you know that the funds are used responsibly?”. These are issues that I myself have struggled with and have discouraged me from donating money in the past. The most valuable advice I received while preparing the fundraising campaign was: “if you trust the people, give freely and without expectations…everyone is trying to balance to desire to help directly and the responsibility to help in an accountable manner. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but I would start small and focus on who and what you know best.” It just so happens that I’m currently reading The Speed of …

Why don’t we discuss making adult friends?

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about adult friendships. Why the adults I know have so few friends, particularly if they are in a relationship or have kids. Why there is such a gap between their social network size and the number of people they actually consider confidants. Why there are so many well-developed tools for finding jobs and partners, but not friendship. My search for answers began by diving into academic research on social networks. To provide some context, a global social network is often subdivided into several circles when discussed academically: acquaintances, co-workers, friendship, personal, and family. It’s well documented that social networks and the emotional support that they provide are as valuable as sleep, eating well and exercise for long term health and wellness. The personal network is the subset of the global network that provides this essential support. Practically speaking, these are the people you reach out to when you have important news to share, serious decisions to make, or need to ask for help. Needless to say, these are the relationships you want to build and maintain as an adult. Above and …

Nurturing connections to form lasting friendships

Two years ago, I joined a Hong Kong Science Park delegation to participate in a Geneva exhibition. While there, I met a Sri Lankan professor who radiated energy like an elastic band pulled taught and his appearance further reinforced this visual. He personifies everything I’ve come to feel about Sri Lanka: genuine, inquisitive and bubbling over with enthusiasm about the country’s future. Serendipitously, my Airbnb hosts were a warm Sri Lankan family, who also welcomed him into their home. This gave us the opportunity to build a foundation for friendship. We celebrated Sri Lankan new year together, which is where I got my first taste of both the food and culture. This wonderful experience stuck with me. Last November I applied and was accepted to a Vipassana meditation course in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Afterwards, I had the chance to reunite with that professor. When I told him about my meditation experience, he immediately called his close friend and shared my recent experience. Without hesitation, this stranger graciously offered me free accommodation at a retreat he had designed and built …