The strength of weak ties

"It’s not just who and what our ties know that matters. It is how we communicate with them as well. Because close-knit groups of strong ties are usually so similar, they tend to use a simple, encoded way of communicating known as restricted speech. Economical but incomplete, restricted speech relies on incrowd colloquialisms and shortcuts to say more with less. Texters all know that FTW means “for the win” just as businesspeople know that JIT stands for “justin time.” But in-group members share more than slang and vocabulary. They share assumptions about one another and the world. They may have gone to the same schools or have the same ideas about love. Our strong ties probably all watch Glenn Beck or Rachel Maddow or Stephen Colbert—or they decidedly do not. Whatever the particular sources of sameness, hanging out with them can limit who and what we know, how we talk, and ultimately how we think. Weak ties, on the other hand, force us to communicate from a place of difference, to use what is called elaborated speech. Unlike restricted speech, which presupposes similarities between the speaker and the listener, elaborated speech does not presume that the listener thinks in the same way or knows the same information. We need to be more thorough when we talk to weak ties, and this requires more organization and reflection. There are fewer tags, such as “ya know,” and sentences are less likely to trail off at the end. Whether we are talking about career ideas or our thoughts on love, we have to make our case more fully. In this way, weak ties promote, and sometimes even force, thoughtful growth and change. " This is an excerpt from The Twenties - The defining decade by Meg Jay.

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