Does This IM Make Me Look Fat?

July 26, 2007 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Fun, social software | Leave a comment

I wrote previously on how attention management can be applied to losing weight (see Attention Management for Weight Loss!). Now I’m wondering if technologies commonly associated with social software can do the same.

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, researchers at the University of California in San Diego Harvard Medical School have found that social networking effects influence weight loss/gain. For one of a zillion articles on this story check out “Is obesity contagious?” 25 July 2007 – New Scientist. If a person’s friends are all thin or go on a diet, it encourages that person to also view thinness as achievable and desirable. The interesting part to me is that it is the bond of the social network, not merely proximity, that matters. The article states:

Fowler notes that friends living nearby seemed to exert just as much influence on a person’s weight as those living 800 kilometers (500 miles) away. To him, this suggests that the trend has more to do with a spread of social norms than behaviors. In other words, the idea of what constitutes a normal weight travels more easily across distance than do behaviors – such as exercise and eating routines.

So, does IM’ing count? How about participants in my social bookmarking? Should I only join discussion groups with exercise fanatics? Can I set up filters on my e-mail to block any sender with a body mass index over 20 (don’t need the extra pounds with that spam!)?  Swarm with comments on my blog and lose weight? Nah … I’m just having fun with this of course. But it still does point out the importance of social networks over artificial networks such as who sits around you in your cubicle or who the org chart says are your immediate peers.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if every topic area in the Collaboration and Content Strategies service relates to weight loss at some point. What’s next: portals or content management …


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