It appears that those I know, associate with and generally consider my “friends and colleagues” have been, to some degree, chosen for me without my consent, and vice versa.


According to work conducted at Harvard Medical School and the University of California San Diego, the how to of making friends and building social networks are coded within genes. According to Nicholas Christaskis, a medical sociologist with Harvard, “humans, like ants, assemble themselves into a ‘super organism’ with rules governing the assembly, rules that we carry with us deep in our genes.” The thought is that one’s tendency to transitivity or centrality is “significantly heritable.”


Perhaps this why I was a hall wanderer and not on the high school yearbook committee. Throughout my life my genetic background has been a prime determinant of how many friends I (will) have as well as how many of my friends are friends amongst themselves.


diffusionofinnovationSuch a theory lends credibility, perhaps, to the explosion of Facebook, LinkedIn, and the overall diffusion of innovation, trends, products, and like-minded long-term behavioral shifts in societal thought. According to James Fowler, a University of California political scientist, “the next step is to look for specific genes, to see if social networks can explain associations with behaviors with obesity, smoking, and depression.”


Perhaps they can predict with a pin prick the propensity of me and my friends to hop on board and buy a new Chevy.