The Node-In-A-Network Theory: Why What You Do Matters
2 min read

The Node-In-A-Network Theory: Why What You Do Matters

When you think about that you are just one person on a planet with over seven billion people your choices seem insignificant.

It seems what you do or don’t doesn’t really matter. Your choices lack a sense of importance.

This can be a problem.

When we think that what we do or don’t do doesn’t really matter, we don’t want to do many things that would be good for us.

This can not only be problematic for us, but can also negatively impact our relationships and careers.

It’s better if our choices matter – and they do.

In fact, they matter a lot more than we realize.

Everything you do matters.
That’s the definition of a meaningful life.
-Jordan Peterson [1]

Network Analysis

To understand why this is the case we need to understand how we are connected with other people and what influence we have on each other.

Researchers of the theory of social network analysis look at how we influence and are influenced by other people.

They found that the behaviors and choices of other people influence us in profound ways.

They influence what we do, how we feel and what we think.

They also influence if we become obese, exercise, feel lonely, or depressed, and also influence if we are altruistic, compassionate, or kind.

The same is true for us. Our choices have the same impact on other people.

Behaviors and emotions spread.

This may not seem significant, as we think that we are in control of ourselves.

But, if you stop for a second and think about all the things you wanted to do and how little you got done today, you soon realize that this is not exactly true.

Our ancient, biological wiring is in large control of our behavior.

This means, that we aren’t in full control of how we behave – instead, we are heavily influenced by external influences.

What others do influences our choices and the way we live our lives.

The same way, what we do influences the choices, behaviors and lives of others.

What we do matters.

It isn’t merely that your faith depends on whether or not you get your act together and to what degree you decide that you’re going to live out your own genuine being – it isn’t only your faith; it’s the faith of everyone that you’re networked with.
-Jordan Peterson[2]

Node in a Network

At this point you might agree that what we do and don’t do affects other people.

But, you might object, that it only matters for a very limited amount of choices, concerning only a very limited number of people.

According to psychologist Jordan Peterson you could be wrong.

Instead of thinking about our life as separate from that of billions of other people, we can imagine ourselves as a node in a network.

This is based on the assumption that we will know over a thousand people over the course of our life.

In the age of social media, vast cities and increasing connectivity this seems true and maybe even understated.

If we know a thousand people over the course of our life, it is reasonable to assume that each of them will also know a thousand people.

Putting this in context with the network theory means that our choices influence over a million people.

Add to this another layer, and we are close to one billion people.

That’s how we are connected, roughly speaking.


The effects of our choices ripple outwards in ways we can’t fully comprehend and influence more people than we realize.

Despite the fact that we are just one person of over seven billion people on this earth, what we do and don’t do matters far more than we think.

Yet, maybe this is one aspect of a meaningful life:

Everything you do matters.

  1. Jordan Peterson, Freedom of Speech. ↩︎

  2. Jordan Peterson, Personality 13: Existentialism via Solzhenitsyn and the Gulag. ↩︎

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