Six Degrees of Separation


We live in a world that sometimes seems to be extremely huge and overwhelming. There are billions of people in the world, and the population continues to grow on a daily basis. Yet other times, the world seems to be so small that we’re all connected in some form or fashion to other people whether we realize it or not. There is a theory called the “human web”, otherwise known as six degrees of separation. This theory proposes that each and every human being on the planet is connected in some way through a series of connections of people with no more than 5 people total in between. Some believe that this theory can help them find people they lost touch with including long-lost friends or relatives, or locate certain peoples’ criminal records. A play was written in 1990 by the same name by author John Guare, and a movie later made starring Will Smith in one of his first big screen roles.

There has been much research done to prove or disprove this famous theory. Recently, Microsoft tried to prove it through researching their Instant Messenger service usage and through email messages. The idea was that everyone using their service ended up knowing someone else through no more than 5 different contacts. Overall, the results were fairly startling. The average number of connections between people was about 6.6, which is very close to the original theory. Other technology companies have also tried to test the theory through services such as cell phone usage. A researcher named Stanley Milgam at Harvard University, performed a study called “Milgram’s Small World Experiment” which began in the 1960s. The theory was actually proved to be quite accurate. The idea that we are all somehow connected and can find people through our relationships and connections is very comforting. It often makes people remember just how small the world around us can be.

So much research has been done on the theory of six degrees of separation, that many people are now true believers. Still others might seem skeptical, although there is now a very popular cultural game that says otherwise. “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” is now a wildly popular game that has attracted college students, kids, and older adults to play. The theme is basically the same as the general separation theory, however it is based on the movies and work of actor Kevin Bacon. The idea is that any actor or famous person is somehow connected to Bacon through a movie, song, television program, or other form of media. The game was originally concocted by three college students, and it has now manifested into a huge hit. Bacon has chosen to use this newfound popularity by creating a charitable organization. There have also been other games in relation to the same idea. No matter how someone looks at it, people are definitely connected to each other in some form or fashion. The concept or theory can even be used by police officers in order to help locate criminal records or other vital information about potential criminals.