The Reliants Project #40
How networks shape our lives
Thanks for signing up to all the new readers! Here are some nuggets about how networks shape your wellbeing, relationships and community to help you actively cultivate yours.
Recently I launched The Reliants Project Library. Right now you’ll find more than 150 of my favourite resources on how to support your social wellbeing, nurture relationships, and build community. There are articles, books, consumer apps, and enterprise technologies that you can filter, sort, and search. If you have go-to resource that’s missing, I’d love to add it. The library is growing every day!
In Three Problems of Power, I really like how Margaret Heffernan describes the social experience of power in a very relatable way. She breaks it down into a set of characteristics that all show up in a social context: pleasing, silence, blindness, distance, and dehumanization. Make sure you read all 3 parts!
“This ornate commute ensconced him in a physical bubble that no weak signals or accidental encounters could penetrate. This physical manifestation of power may look like luxury but it comes at a cost. The bubble of power seals off bad news, inconvenient detail, hostile opinion and messy reality, leaving leaders free to inhale the rarefied air of pure abstraction.”
Gen Z and the death of the networking mixer paints a more optimistic picture about the application of technology to relationship building. The article references some exciting research and stats about online dating, making virtual friends, and recruiting in a digital-first world. It manages to do all that without mentioning the metaverse once :].
Handshake research has shown that virtual career events help level the playing field for students of color, women, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities. Many report feeling more “seen” and psychologically safe online versus in person, which can counteract implicit bias or other behaviors that favor more outgoing and socially confident individuals in “real life.”
Say it ain’t so! I’m not prepared to believe it’s The End of Trust, but I find the topic profoundly important. I never realised that researchers had identified a direct financial impact of trust:
The concept may sound squishy, but the effect isn’t. The economists Paul Zak and Stephen Knack found, in a study published in 1998, that a 15 percent bump in a nation’s belief that “most people can be trusted” adds a full percentage point to economic growth each year. That means that if, for the past 20 years, Americans had trusted one another like Ukrainians did, our annual GDP per capita would be $11,000 lower; if we had trusted like New Zealanders did, it’d be $16,000 higher. “If trust is sufficiently low,” they wrote, “economic growth is unachievable.”
The scary bit is surveys suggest that feelings of trust have dropped 15% in America over the last 30+ years.
A trust spiral, once begun, is hard to reverse. One study found that, even 20 years after reunification, fully half of the income disparity between East and West Germany could be traced to the legacy of Stasi informers. Counties that had a higher density of informers who’d ratted out their closest friends, colleagues, and neighbors fared worse. The legacy of broken trust has proved extraordinarily difficult to shake.
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About The Reliants Project
Reliant is my word for a person that someone depends on, an essential component of our social networks. With each edition, I’ll share useful nuggets about how networks shape your wellbeing, relationships, and community to help you actively cultivate yours. Whether you want to make better introductions, build better social products and services, or activate networks to make an impact in the world, let me help you reach your goals.
You can find more about The Reliants Project here.