The Power of Networks

MCNC Leading Innovation
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Sean Doyle

For close to thirty-five years, MCNC has looked for ways to connect North Carolinians where they live, work and play. We are proud to provide safe, high-speed connections to schools and students regardless of whether they are in kindergarten, college or beyond. Our networks allow patients to interact with health care providers across the state, increasing not only the access and efficiency of healthcare, but enhancing quality while reducing costs, by delivering a fast, secure platform from which providers can manage chronic diseases and share health information and resources. In addition, our 2,700-mile fiber network gives communities from Ashe and Cherokee to Brunswick and Currituck the infrastructure and services they need to grow businesses, attract jobs, enhance safety and enable the real-time information sharing required for an educated and informed citizenry.

These are just some of the ways, we at MCNC, are hopefully making people’s lives a little bit better.

But “networks” consist of more than the fiber loops, terminal nodes and access points that make up our physical connections to one another. Our networks are social and emotional too. They connect to the people of our lives: the people we depend upon, relate to and laugh with. What we insert in those networks matters and makes a difference in the quality and tone of our lives.

Researchers in psychology and public health have demonstrated that whatever we put into networks spreads. Happiness, loneliness, kindness, even weight gain and weight loss, all travel through networks in measurable degrees. Whether someone cooperates or take advantage of another person affects others three degrees removed from the original interaction. It affects the behavior and experience of total strangers. What we do, really does have a ripple effect. Like an event cone, one act, whether it inserts humanity or hostility, changes and alters unrelated events.

With this in mind, our wish for you in the New Year is that you continue to connect with one another and keep putting goodness into your communities. Encourage and help each other. Find and celebrate what is right with the world, and share it with loved ones, neighbors and friends. We all have the ability to make one another’s lives a little more gentle and kind, a little easier and more pleasant.

Happy New Year from all of us at MCNC. 

(For more on the power of our networks, see Nicholas Christakis’ TED Talk, The Hidden Influence of Social Networks.)

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