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How Your Social Networks Influence You45:33
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We’ll look at how social networks may guide your life. Your health. Your happiness.

(iMorpheus/Flickr)
(iMorpheus/Flickr)

We picture ourselves as distinct individuals. Bold or mild. Tame or wild. But making our own ways through the world. In American parlance, even as “rugged individualists.”

Forget about it, say my guests today. Yes, you are an individual. But each of us lives in social networks that powerfully shape the way we think, feel, operate in the world.

Our ideas, our emotions, our politics, our sex lives – even our weight and life spans – invisibly guided by network effects. Now it’s on Facebook, and in the streets of Egypt and beyond.

This hour On Point: the social networks that shape our lives.
- Tom Ashbrook
Guests:

Nicholas Christakis, professor with joint appointments in the departments of health care policy, sociology and medicine at Harvard University. In 2009, he was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. He is co-author of “Connected: How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think and Do,” just out in paperback.

James Fowler, professor at the University of California, San Diego, in the Department of Political Science and the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems. He is co-author of “Connected: How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think and Do."

Here's an excerpt from the book.

Earthquake In New Zealand
At the end of this hour, we'll hear from New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key on the devastating earthquake in Christchurch.

People walk through a street partly covered with rubble after an earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22 (AP)
People walk through a street partly covered with rubble after an earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22 (AP)

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Already the bravery and resilience of Canterbury is on show.

In the weeks ahead our journey will take us to new obstacles, new challenges.

We have a city to rebuild. We have peoples’ livelihoods to restore. We have a community’s confidence to inspire.

We will rise to these challenges.

We will rebuild this city resolutely, and with the conviction that this is what it is to be a Cantabrian, what it is to be a New Zealander.

We are a country of pioneers. Whether we came by waka, sailboat, or aeroplane, we came with the conviction that we could build a new life in this country.

That great pioneering spirit will come to the fore in Christchurch over the coming months and years.

Though lost lives will never be replaced, and though your city will never look the same again, you will rebuild your city, you will rebuild your lives, you will overcome.

We have seen many cities in the world come back from disasters on this scale, and Christchurch will be no exception.

I know that all New Zealanders stand ready to help.

Right now, we can help by rallying around those who are grieving, supporting those whose livelihoods are in peril.

My message to all Kiwis who want to help is - act on that desire.

No act of kindness is too small.

Right now, you can help by offering support to friends and family who are hurting. Offer them a bed or a roof over their head if that is what they need. Make your donations to help those who have been hit hardest.

As infrastructure recovers, your visits to Christchurch will be welcome.

Above all, throughout this journey, offer those affected your love. Know that your humanity is more powerful than any act of nature.

As we look to the future, New Zealanders should know that the Government is going to do everything we can to support the recovery and rebuilding of Christchurch.

We are a resilient nation, and we will not bow down to this challenge.

Now let me turn to events of today.

In the past half hour, I have been advised by the Police commander on the ground, Superintendent Dave Cliff, of the latest information available on the loss of life.

I need to emphasise that this information remains under constant review and will be updated during the course of the day.

I am advised that the Police have confirmed 75 fatalities at this point, 55 of whom have been identified.

There are many others missing, the status of which remains unknown.

I have just finished chairing an Emergency Cabinet Meeting, the third since the earthquake struck less than 24 hours ago.

At Cabinet today Ministers received the latest advice on the situation on the ground and discussed all elements of the rescue and recovery.

Cabinet agreed with the decision made under Civil Defence legislation by the Minister to declare a national state of emergency.

As required by the legislation, John Carter will make a statement to Parliament this afternoon.

I have been in contact with Mayor Bob Parker to inform him of the decision, and to reiterate my assurance that central Government will provide all necessary resources to deal with this natural disaster.

I have also spoken by telephone with Leader of the Opposition Phil Goff to inform him of this decision and I also thanked him for his efforts on the ground in Christchurch.

In practice this enables the strongest possible focus of local, national and international resources working together to achieve the best possible response in the shortest timeframe.

Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, this declaration means the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management John Hamilton may control the exercise and performance of functions, duties, and powers of CDEM Groups and Group controllers. There are no other differences between the powers under a state of local emergency and a state of national emergency.

Of course, these powers will be exercised working in close support of and cooperation with Bob Parker and the Christchurch Civil Defence team.

At the end of this press conference I will be leaving for the airport to once again travel to Christchurch.

I expect to arrive at about 1pm, and I will go directly to Civil Defence Headquarters to meet with Bob Parker and be updated on the situation.

I would like to, if possible, visit some of the welfare centres that have been established.

It is also my hope to be able to survey the damage in Lyttelton in some way.

I intend to return to Wellington tonight for further meetings with Ministers.

I’d like to take a moment now to acknowledge the international offers of help we have received, and to thank our friends around the globe for their sympathy and support.

I have spoken with several leaders since the Earthquake and we have received messages from all over the world. I cannot note them all right now simply because there are so many. But I have been touched by the support.

There have been foreign nationals caught up in this disaster and it is possible that some of the fatalities from this earthquake are visitors to New Zealand.

Foreign Affairs officials are providing all the support they can to consular staff from other countries, as they work to assist their own nationals caught up in the disaster.

To date, we have accepted offers of assistance from Australia, the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Japan and Taiwan. We are constantly assessing the requirements in Christchurch and have offers of help from many other countries pending at this point which we are keeping under review.

A statement will be coming from Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s office shortly outlining further details of this overseas assistance.

This program aired on February 23, 2011.

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