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How Connected Is Your Community to Everywhere Else in America?

Stroebel said, “in explaining every single county’s connectedness.” Even in Washington, D.C., nearly half of friendship links extend to people who live within 100 miles. Nationwide, in the average county, 63 percent of friendship links are that close, probably reflecting that many people on Facebook know one another through real-world sites like grade schools, colleges and offices. Other research shows that these sites tend to be close to home: The typical American lives just 18 miles from his or her mother . The typical student enrolls in college less than 15 miles from home . Proximity works alongside every other pattern shown below. State lines are powerful boundaries in binding nearby places. For many counties, as the maps illustrate, the likelihood of friendship drops off sharply at state borders. And counties within a given state tend to be strongly connected to one another. This is particularly striking in Michigan, where counties near the Indiana and Ohio state line are more closely tied to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula than to out-of-state counties closer by. History is another significant force in shaping these networks.

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