connected together

By Paula Gorrochategui (1995), DSB Bilbao/Spain.

Last week, I read in an blog that every person in this world is connected with a distance of seven (actually 6.6) steps with each other. This means that I can pick any person of the planet (Let´s say Barack Obama) and there will be a person I know, who knows a person who knows a person who knows a person who knows a person who knows a person who knows a person who knows a person who knows a person who knows the President of the United States of America.

First, I thought that was pretty cool.

Then, I found that hard to believe.

So I started checking if it was true. And it was. Plenty of studies say (giving examples way more serious than mine) that the world’s population is more connected than what we thought.

I even found a wikipedia-article. And everybody knows that everything gets serious when you find a wikipedia-article about it.

This is called the “Six degrees of separation”, known as “A friend of a friend” theory, and was developed by an Hungarian journalist called Frigyes Karinthy in the year 1939.

I found this interesting, so I kept reading and I discovered that Facebook decided to prove if this statement was true in the year 2009. The result was 5.73 steps. They did it again last year : the result was 4.74 steps.

The world is not getting smaller (literally speaking) but the distances seem to be shrinking because of globalization, and, as we can see, specially because of social networks. The steps are getting smaller and smaller with time, and the Internet plays a very big role in this.

Who would have thought 20 years before that you could be sharing pictures with someone who lives 10.000 kilometers away from you? That you would be able to meet someone from another continent without actually seeing their face, without needing to fly or take a plane, just by clicking on a certain window?

And not only people: opinions and ideas are also connecting way faster because of the Internet. Any thought, idea or opinion (without the filter of quality, I must say) can be shared via Twitter, a web page where everyone is able to create their own network just by following. There are no people who connect, just digital identities who share…let´s call it stuff.

In this case, the distance between users is 4.4 steps.

Thinking about a not so far away future, when the I-Babys, the ones who where born surrounded by the digital-boom are old, we can guess that almost everyone will be online. Will that mean that everyone will be connected by one step?

Seeing the rhythm our society is developing  this is not a reckless statement.

It´s only a matter of time seeing how this influences our life, and, personally, I hope we take the good out of it, that the shortening of distances means a shortening of conflicts.