How To Measure Fraternity Strength

Everyone is a member of some fraternity or the other – school, university, neighborhood, employer, social networking group, and so on.

Intuitively, we know that some fraternities are strong whereas others are not. My chance encounters with a few of my fraternities in the recent past got me wondering if there was any way to measure a¬†fraternity’s strength rigorously. When I did a quick Google search, this is what I found:

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Google Search Results

Since the mighty Google substituted “paternity” for “fraternity” from its very second result, I’m jumping to the conclusion that there’s no ‘prior art’ in the field of fraternity strength measurement. Therefore, I’m proposing the following principle (patent pending) in an attempt to fill the gap in this space.

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In plain English, if you’ve been separated from a classmate for decades but can get back on backslapping terms with him or her in a few minutes, your school or college’s fraternity strength is high. On the other hand, if you take a long time to break ice with an ex-colleague with whom you’ve been out of touch for barely a year or two, your ex-company’s fraternity is not so strong.

Let me illustrate this principle by rating the strength of a few fraternities to which I belong.

  1. IIT Bombay. University. I lost touch with most of my batchmates when I was graduated from here in 1985. I reconnected with many of them during my batch’s Silver Jubilee Reunion in 2010. It hardly felt that we’d been separated at all. N = 25 years. t = <1 second. FS = Very High.
  2. Wipro. Past Employer. I’ve been out of touch with most of my ex-colleagues since I left the company in 1991. Recently, one of them pinged me on Facebook Messenger, wanting to talk to me soon. I rarely do IM, whether FB or others, so I celebrated the rare occasion by offering to take his call right away. Since the said ex-colleague took a couple of minutes to call me, ‘t’ is higher than in the case of IIT Bombay. Since N is several years lower than with IIT Bombay, the Wipro Fraternity Strength, while high, is not in the same league as IIT Bombay’s.
  3. MHD. Past Employer. I left this company in Muscat, Oman, back in 1996. I recently re-connected with two ex-colleagues. With the first one, our meeting followed a few prior emails. The second one bumped into me recently at a hospital; modesty prevents me from saying who recognized whom when this chance encounter happened. Because the backslapping with the first ex-colleague was pre-planned and barely happened with the second, I’d rate the Fraternity Strength of MHD as only Fair, certainly not as high as that of IIT Bombay or Wipro.

Thanks largely to its fantastic anthem, my daughter’s school will likely have a very high fraternity strength – in the same league as IIT Bombay’s, if not greater. However, my daughter is still in school. It will be two more years until she loses touch with her classmates and many more years before reunions will happen. So, there’s a long way to go for my prediction to be put to test.

In all the aforementioned examples, you’d notice that I’ve avoided rating any fraternity’s strength as low. Instead, I’ve carefully used terms like ‘not so strong’ or ‘fair’ for the fraternities whose strengths are, ahem, ‘not as high as that of’ the others. Let me assure readers that, in using such terminology, I’m not trying to obfuscate the situation. Fact is, a ‘weak fraternity’ is an oxymoron – such a fraternity wouldn’t form in the first place.

Some of you might be tempted to bust the above FS scores – if not the underlying principle of fraternity strength itself – on the grounds that they’re based on interactions among just one or two people of fraternities that have thousands of members. To such statistically-minded readers, I’d claim that this theory can be validated by first calculating the fraternity strength for each individual interaction and then averaging them all out to arrive at the overall Fraternity Strength. Happy computing!

UPDATE DATED 27 SEPTEMBER 2017:

Five years after I wrote this post, I’ve got some data to test my prediction about the fraternity strength of my daughter’s school.

Conclusion: My prediction is right even without the reason I’d given for it!

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