Washington D.C: If you think you're pretty popular, then you may want to rethink your life, as according to a new study, you aren't.
No matter how smart and funny you think you are, those you follow on Twitter, really do have a larger following than you. And the same holds true for Facebook.
But there is no reason to feel badly about any of this, as per researcher Naghmeh Momeni Taramsari from the McGill University.
According to her research, it is all due to the inherently hierarchical nature of social media networks, where, in the social hierarchy of connections, people mostly either follow up or across; they rarely follow down.
"Most people tend to think that they are better than their friends when it comes to intelligence, memory, popularity, and other personal traits," says Taramsari. "However, a recent study by other researchers shows that this perception is false, at least in the context of online social networks."
Taramsari noted that in reality, our friends really have more friends than we do, on average. Moreover, our friends are more active (post more material), and are more influential (their posts are viewed and passed on more often). This is known as the Generalized Friendship Paradox.
You may be less popular, but you are not alone as after using new methods to measure user influence and the extent to which the Generalized Friendship Paradox exists in social networks, the team concluded that up to 90 per cent of us experience this paradox, even those with relatively high levels of activity and influence.
That's because people at any level of activity and influence tend to follow others who are more active and influential than themselves, according to senior author Michael Rabbat.
In the end, even online, it's because we all want to be friends with the popular kids.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.