I am fascinated by the whole six degrees of separation concept. Not only is it a fun party game (a la Kevin Bacon), I think it also helps us feel less overwhelmed by the size of the planet. We are all related. Of course, when a group in question has something in common, the degrees of separation are fewer. For Mormons, I think it’s probably three or four. If you attended the same university within the same few years, it may be only two or three.
I recently read “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell (and you should, too), in which this subject gets a slightly more scholarly treatment. It turns out that a psychologist in the 1960s did actual experiments to see how many steps it would take to link two unrelated people. Gladwell points out that these relationships often funnel through the same few people — people he calls “connectors.” Connectors tend to know a lot of people, and have a knack for bringing them together.
So what about for bloggers?
I entered blog-dom less than a month ago, and have already discovered that pretty much everyone I “know” online already seems to know each other. This is partly because many of these people are Mormons, and many attended, or are related to someone who attended, BYU. Also, most of my new bloggy friends are in a smallish general age range (I’d say about 25-35). With all of those common factors, the degrees of separation are far fewer than six. Further, blogging itself connects people. One comment on someone’s blog tends to bring others to your blog, and pretty soon, we’re all connected. And, many of the connections circle back to someone you know in real life.
I have also discovered a “connector” in this little bloggy world, and many of you won’t be surprised to learn that her name is cjane. A few examples:
I learned about cjane’s blog through my sister, Anne, who launched my interest in blogging to begin with. Anne found cjane through her real-life friend, Emily. (I don’t know where Emily discovered cjane — Em, can you complete this piece of the puzzle?) As it turns out, Anne knows cjane’s parents in real life, because they are in her ward (congregation). Degrees from Anne to cjane: 2.
One day, I clicked on the link to cjane’s sister, Nie Nie. She happened to be featuring her sister-in-law, Alice Nielson DeWitt. Alice looked so familiar to me I thought I must know her, and I was right. She was one of my sister Kathryn’s roommates and good friends at BYU. Degrees from Kathryn to cjane: 4.
So yesterday (I really do need to get a life), I happened to click on the link to cjane’s sister-in-law, Lisa. Lisa seemed familiar also, and it wasn’t until I reached a picture of her with her husband, Chris, who is cjane’s brother, that I figured out why. I’m sure Chris and Lisa don’t remember me, but I was an “extra” in a low-budget play about the Book of Mormon with them in the summer of 1995. Chris was the star, and one of the best things about that little production. Degrees from me to cjane: 2.
Isn’t this fun? I never get tired of games like this, and I think it’s because we have an innate need to feel connected to each other. It’s so good to be reminded that we are all children of a loving God, and therefore, all brothers and sisters. Wouldn’t the world climate change so much if everyone knew and understood this concept? Thanks cjane, for doing your part to connect the people of the world.