Connected: The Power of our Social Networks


On real influence, Nicholas Christakis, and what transmuted the world for me just yesterday.

Here’s my Hypothesis: Sisters are meant to turn up the Light in each other.

Process: I don’t have a sister. I am five years younger than my brother. Meaning: I grew up pretty much like an only child. I had one girlfriend, Celeste, I played dolls with when I was little, but she moved away to a different part of town. I didn’t go to the same school as the kids in my neighbourhood and my own school was a car ride away. I always needed my mom to drive me anywhere I wanted to go.

Let’s just say I spent a lot of time with books. And I spent years praying for a friend who “got” me. Fast forward many years now, and I am still the girl who treasures close girlfriends.

Two weeks ago, I got an email from Tina saying her sister (Sherrine) had signed her up for an event. And o, by the way, she registered me too.

Me? I felt giddy that someone would think of me and sign me up for something she thought I would get a kick out of.

It was like she had given me tickets to Game 7.

So, I organized a babysitter, picked up California rolls and ran a few errands for beloved Husband. Then I took off my Mommy clothes, imagined what I could wear to a downtown professional event and hopped on a skytrain to Waterfront station.

Brain Buzz

Walking into Canada Place’s  Exhibition Hall A, I already had the biggest smile on my face and the event hadn’t even started. I was with a girlfriend in a room full of thinkers and someone handed me a glass of Merlot. Hello!

There we were in the back third of the hall, listening and sparking off Dr. Nicholas Christakis, author of “Connected” and listed as one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in 2009. (PS: He’s got two TED talks!) As we heard the research, interesting charts and cool sentences with words like computational, social induction and homophily, we kept drawing it through the lens of SheLoves: this beautiful social network we are pouring so much heart and soul into.

We learned that even though Alyssa Milano has a million followers on Twitter and tweets a link to your book on, which is then retweeted and goes out to a million more people, it doesn’t necessarily translate into booksales. In fact, on the day she tweeted a link to Christakis’ book “Connected,” their sales actually went down.

Meaning: Information does not necessarily equal Influence. For our connectedness to carry influence, our interactions must be real or actually feel real. Otherwise, something must be at stake in the relationship, eg. two smokers trying to quit together. Plus: We need both leaders AND followers. (ie. sheep are important!)

He ended with this little zinger: “Social networks are required for goodness to flourish.”

No kidding.

Conclusion: As I sat there, thinking on SheLoves + what Sherrine did + sharing it with a brainy girlfriend = I didn’t just hear a speech on the power of our social networks, I was right smack dab inside of it. I felt it.

And that made me think: It seems like such a simple act from a girl who rose up on behalf of her sister and her sister’s friend. And yet, it’s exactly these kinds of small acts of great Love–of getting each other–that can really can set the world ablaze for very very good.

Thank you, Sherrine. You turned up the Light for me.


  • When last did you feel like someone really got you? How did that make you feel?
  • When last did you do something like this for someone else? (I know I’m feeling challenged.)


  • Tina Francis

    – I love my sister.
    – I love that I’m your “brainy friend.” YES! Now I can die happy…haha.
    – I love Scott for being with the kids.
    – I loved your downtown outfit.
    – I love that we got a chance to deconstruct the talk and draw our own conclusions before it was too late.
    – I love that you are a fellow-nerd when it comes to excavating what makes a “story” work.
    – I loved that I didn’t have to ride the train home alone last night.
    – I love that we are on the right track (without knowing it) with She Loves.
    – I love that we got fresh insight on the beast that is writing.
    – I love that he used the word “flourish” right after you wrote a whole blog about it.
    – I love that you get me.
    – I love that this is just the beginning

    • idelette

      I love that I have a brainy friend who’s a GIRL. I can die happy too. And you’re so right–it’s just the beginning! How happy that makes my heart … Mmmmm. Visions of Harvard, Kilimanjaro and squatting in the dirt in remote, forgotten places too. Our hearts flung out wide with the Love of God. // I just lost a whole bunch of sentences. Yikes. Will post more later when I’m not on my phone.

      I love your sister too … I love what I see in “sisterhood” in the two of you. (how bout dem post?)

      So much more to say, but for now: Thank you for entering into this season of “with” with me … For graduating and flourishing and meeting me in “with.” I feel like heaven is giving me a kiss. I still have a picture of you fiercely passionate speaking your heart out while driving … That was such an alive moment. A graduate moment.

      Here’s to FLOURISH!

  • Sherrine Francis

     I’m so incredibly touched. What a sweet gesture.

    I wish I told you guys about Mellissa Fung. You both would have loved her. I will feel free to register you two for whatever I think you’re thirsty for. This is just the beginning.

    Lately it just feels like we live in a world of apathy..(at least where I work) that when I actually see a passionate person on fire..I get a huge lump in my throat and all I wanna do is “water” that fire.

    When I think of you 2..I think of what Margret Mead said..”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    Love you two.