Central Kentucky has a lot of geographically close-knit social media networks

A recent analysis by the New York Times Upshot blog examines the geographical dispersion of social media networks for people in each part of the country:

socialmediadispersion

Darker blue means that, on average, those who live there have fewer social media contacts who live within 50 miles of them while whiter colors mean that, on average, those who live there have more social media contacts who live within 50 miles of the them.

To some extent, one can explain the east vs. west difference by simple population density. Growing up out west, I can attest to the fact that you have to drive eight hours in any direction to get anywhere.

At the same time, I would estimate that even controlling for population density, those in the east central region are more likely to have contacts that live close by. Indeed, central Kentucky is one of the most concentrated places in the country for those whose social media contacts live nearby.

As the authors explain:

Close-knit communities can have their own benefits, like enabling neighbors to rely on one another for economic and social support. But previous research suggests that “weak ties” to people we know less well can be particularly valuable for bringing us information we don’t already have. So people in communities that are more broadly connected may be more likely to hear about a wider range of business or educational opportunities.

 

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