Six Degrees of Separation
I’m mesmerized and inspired by six degrees of separation. It’s no myth. It’s the real deal.
Like this one time I moved to Boulder alone and had no job so I picked up side work – anything I could (thanks Craigslist) like a photographers assistant and then working The Democratic National Convention. On the day of Obama’s acceptance speech at Invesco Field I was setting up the VIP booths (walking past Oprah, Kanye and Jimmy Carter) with a fellow new-friend on the event team for the week. We were talking about six degrees of separation and how crazy it is.
“Oh yea,” he muses, “here’s a good story for you…I was hiking the Patagonia trail and ran into anther guy. We started talking and we found out, all the way in South America, that I went to Middlebury College the same time he was living in Middlebury, VT. Crazy, right?”
My heart skipped a beat. I stifled a giggle.
“Wait, was that guy hiking the Patagonia trail named Evan?”
“Uh, yea.” He mentions his last name, I nod my head wildly, and yell, “I grew up with him. I knew he was hiking the Patagonia trail and thought, it might be him.” Per chance, right?
“He was my best friend when living in South America!”
Here we are, working a job for one week, with thousands of team members for one of the largest national conventions our country had in 2008, talking about his experience of a small world/six degrees of separation and I was in his small world story.
Then there’s that other time, I was half way around the world in Athens, Greece checking out the Acropolis and I walked past my friend’s best friend from college. We sort of just stared in disbelief at each other, then laughed. Four days later, I was leaving Greece to go back to Italy and in line at the Athens airport, there she was, same girl, in line in front of me. Again, disbelief and laughter.
As Stanley Milgram measured connectivity across the United States he “discovered that only a small number of connections, especially through hubs and portals like the world wide web, interlink the entire population.”
Six degrees of separation asserts that, “a person is a step away from people they know and two steps distant from people known by the people they know–thus the magic number six.”
We are connected, in a constant ebb and flow that is undeniable. It comes to a point, where I don’t even recognize borders or cross cultural differences. Networking isn’t a buzz word, it’s real life, it’s knowing people, it’s creating your life. The line bleeds across the edge, leaving no room for separation but rather connectivity.
What is your story of six degrees? Do you feel connected by it or confused?