BY: JAMES WANG | JANUARY 19, 2014
Think Rise of the Planet of the Apes or the numerous zombie apocalypse movies in existence. In fact, in the movie Contagion, the origin of a mass pandemic is traced back to a single person through their social networks. In these cases, the disease is spread out biologically, but also through social ties. The mad researchers continuously tampering with forces beyond their comprehension inevitably end up infecting their co-workers, lackeys, friends, and family, who will then pass it on to others. Social networks play a large role in everyday life, but often get overlooked. Just look to Durkheim’s views. Durkheim stated that society is unified through the relationships its parts—the people—possess. Without the social networks we possess, the civilized world could come crashing down harder than any pandemic could cause.
Consider how you got into UCLA. Who aided you? Where did you go for guidance? Within your social network lie different sorts of ties that answer this question. We possess ties of varying strengths: those of weak ties and strong ties. Through our strong ties, we gain support and resources; through our weak ties, we gain access to new information. As sociologist James Coleman stated in the 1966 Coleman Report, it is a student’s background and socioeconomic status that are important in determining educational outcomes. Those with parents who have a wider social network and possess strong ties with high-status individuals find situations easier to manage—and mountains easier to scale. Weak ties, instead, grant access to more existing opportunities. The end result is that social networks and ties are the tools people use to navigate through the social world.
Suppose the end of humanity and dawn of the zombie apocalypse were upon us. Are there those that would help you survive the downfall of man, or would there be those that bring doom and gloom to rain down upon you? Even then, consider other individuals that persons in your network know, but you may not know; they too can have an effect on your life. Consider your social networks and ties, and consider what fruits, good or bad, they may bear.