Twenty-five years ago, sociologist Scott Feld demonstrated that on average, your friends have more friends than you do. This sounds impossible, but it’s true…
Go ahead, draw your own social networks and do the math for yourself. You’ll find that Feld’s law holds true for almost any network you can think of. That’s odd, but why should you care?
One reason to care is that Feld’s law explains that feeling many of us have that we’re less popular than our friends. Odds are, you’re right. Don’t take it personally; it’s just the way societies work.
Another reason to care is that Feld’s law is also true for any relationship in which people share something with one another. People share needles in the opiate epidemic facing Maine. People have shared sexual relations since the dawn of humanity. These kinds of sharing can also share deadly viruses like AIDS, hepatitis B and syphilis.
See the abstract of the 1991 article here.
It is interesting that this newspaper piece focuses on the dangerous aspects of this. Danger and death are needed to catch the attention of readers who might not otherwise care about sociological findings? What about normal life when it seems your friends are more popular than you? Rest assured; that is just the way the math works out.