six degrees

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.


26 thoughts on “six degrees

  1. Emily

    Liz, I love this! Have you read Chris’s (cjane’s brother’s) blog? It is side splitting funny (to me, anyway.) Oh BrotherDear! You must check it out.
    I found cjane through a friend who just recommended it to me as an entertaining blog. But later came to realize that before I knew her, I knew her parents because her father was in our stake presidency in Provo. Like I said, at that time I had not yet entered the blogosphere and did not know the loveliness that is cjane.
    You’re right, it is strangely comforting to make these kinds of connections and feel like the world is small. Another great post, Liz.

  2. Traci

    Liz, you are so creative. I always check in on your blog through Anne. Hope you don’t mind the intrusion. Just thought I would tell you that your writings make me happy. I am proud to say the degrees of separation between us (1)!

  3. Laura

    Liz, Here’s to add to your six degrees concept. I recently started reading cjane’s blog after clicking through to NieNie’s blog from my good friend Alice DeWitt’s blog. Today I clicked through from cjanes guestbook to your blog. Alice and I were friends at BYU, and I think I know your sister Kathryn. Was her maiden name Hall? Anyway, I think I still have a chocolate cake recipe she gave me many years ago. Kathryn was also good friends with my mission companion Sheryl Kabler. Small blog world! (If indeed it is the same Kathryn. How many roomates named Kathryn could Alice have had?)

  4. liz Post author

    Man, I love this game. Yes, Laura, that is the right Kathryn. And we all have that chocolate cake recipe. It’s pretty much the only one I ever make — cake mix, chocolate pudding, chocolate chips, sour cream, right?

  5. Anne

    What a kick! I love this. From CJane’s blog I once looked on Azucar’s blog (who is an apparent real-life friend of CJane’s). On her blogroll was “Amy and Bracken.” I was good friends with a guy named Bracken my freshman year at BYU and figured there aren’t many Brackens in the world. I clicked on the link and, sure enough, saw pictures of my old friend with his new baby! I guess I should give him a cyber-shout out. Anyway, I love this post, Liz.

  6. Marilyn

    What a great idea Liz. Thanks to cjane, I have felt more connected than ever. My degree of separation to cjane is two. My degree of separation to Nie is 4. So fun!

  7. tiffany

    I have a couple –

    2 degrees: I was in a Provo ward with Azucar and served in YW with her, she is friends with cJane. (I also met Rachel of Darlybird who knows cjane through azucar but that adds one more degree).

    5 degrees: I dated Mike McCaleb, who is brothers with Grant McCaleb who is married to Kelly McCaleb who knows nienie and, correct me if I am wrong, nienie knows cjane :) Maybe if cjane knows kelly it is 4 degrees?

  8. Christy

    I started reading cjane’s blog before I knew she was my cousin! Okay, here we go: my husband’s grandpa is married to her grandma. Voila. Cousins. At least we’ve been cousins for the better part of a decade.

    I’m also friends with her sister in law’s (Lisa) best friend (in NEBRASKA!).

    Unfortunately we all have yet to meet in person. Someday.

  9. Jenny

    How fun.

    My sister-in-law, Ginger’s, sister-in-law, Stephanie, knows Nie Nie. She also knows Mrs. Dub, and I found the link to CJane on Mrs. Dub’s blog. So 3 or 4 degrees?

    However, I found out two weeks ago, that my wonderful hair stylist, Heidi, has done not only CJane’s hair, but her sisters’ and mother’s hair as well! So the degrees that way would be 2? Heidi is fabulous by the way. :)

  10. Kiki

    I’ve met Eric D. Snider, who, I’m positive, knows cjane, which would make a degree of 2.

    While at the BYU, I took classes from/often joked in elevators with/got lectured about safety because of my frequent broken bones by Azucar’s mom, la professora. And Azucar, obviously is one of cjane’s close friends. So that’s a 3.

  11. Jenn

    Ooh, fun – I love this stuff.

    I actually have the honor of knowing Miss Cjane from our romp as study abroad buddies in London 10 years ago – 1 degree for me! She’s even funnier in person!


  12. compulsive writer

    This is fun! I actually met c jane through the lo down who is both my neighbor and my friend and also friends with ~j who actually knows c jane. But then I realized that c jane is SIL to a girl who grew up through my backyard and after whom (in part) I named my daughter. And most recently I discovered that another neighbor and friend who has since moved is c jane’s cousin. (I also am only six degress removed from Kevin Bacon himself, but it is much more fun to be linked to c jane than to Kevin Bacon.)

    Here is another thing. These are all the bloggers who live within two blocks of me:

    lo down
    sis pottymouth
    daredevil mom
    so cat tacos?
    and the peef.

    Being surrounded by that much blogodaciousness is pretty much fun, too. Truly.

  13. leslie

    wow, cjane must be so very flattered. i also have two connections. my sister, stephanie c., is friends with nienie in arizona. their husbands are highschool friends.
    also, apparently rachel of darlybird and cjane worked on the highschool paper together. my friend phoebe, whom i met at EFY, is good friends with rachel. they lived in the same town in CA.
    cool! i did a post about the circle of blogs once. it’s amazing how we all know each other so many different ways. makes you wonder what non-LDS people ever talk about at parties.

  14. Azúcar

    Ok, are you ready? No really, are you ready?

    I’m a connector and so is cjane, so this is going to get crazy! These are all before I met cjane.

    My dad dated cjane’s mom in high school. How many degrees is that?

    I meet Emily C who lived next to my grandparents and grew up with cjane; 2 degrees.

    Elementary School:
    I went to school with cjane’s cousins, the Popes. While I appreciate the Pope’s now, let me tell you, Jeff was kind of mean and not my favorite; 2 degrees.

    High School:
    I get to know Rachel, Lindy, Carrie, Jenny D. and all the Oak Hills Hotties who go to school with cjane; 2 degrees.
    Cjane dates a bunch of guys I know (2 degrees.)
    I date guys cjane knows (2 degrees.)

    I work with Chris, cjane’s brother at B&N (1 degree?)
    and Lisa, the sister-in-law (2 degrees?)

    I work with Chup, cjane’s future husband. He is very tall, does that add more degrees? I do not have a crush on him although all my friends do. At least one of my good friends dates him (2 degrees.)

    Cjane dates a bunch of guys I know (2 degrees.)

    I manage a bookstore and one of my employees is cjane’s high school boyfriend. We both attend his funeral after his untimely death (very sad. 2 degrees.)

    Cjane and I live in the same apartment complex and have the same bishop (1.5 degrees.)

    I know Jen G. who knows ~J who knows cjane (3 degrees.)

    Here is the point in the timeline where we meet each other and become friends.


  15. alice dewitt

    Wow! I almost feel famous. I’m a little late to the game, but how fun to discover that I have 2 connections to cjane…. she’s practically family in that her sister (nie) is married to my brother. And now cjane sends me to your blog and I find that my dear friend Kathryn is your sister, and you are somehow (?) connected to cjane. She is a crack up… in real life and in blogland. And Laura, I too make Kathryn’s cake recipe all the time… and people always love it! Kathryn, are you out there?

  16. Mandee

    I am the sister to Mike and Grant McCaleb mentioned in Tiffany’s comment. Which makes Kelly McCaleb my sister-in-law, who know’s Nie Nie and CJane. (2 degrees)

    I also have a friend, Rachel, who knows Mrs. Dub, who is also mentioned above. I don’t know if Mrs. Dub knows CJane, but since someone else mentioned her, I figured I would too!

    Blogging is great. For this reason, alone.

  17. Arden

    I don’t know anyone, but would like the chocolate cake recipe posted, please. I would have the highest degree of gratitude.
    Then the chocolate cake recipe could be the connector.

  18. Emily Dub

    I only wish I were as popular as CJane, but I’ll settle for the chocolate cake recipe!
    I found CJane through my SIL Mrs. Dub. Through CJane, I found Sarah at “HollywoodFlakes” whose husband served in the same mission as Mrs. Dub’s husband…my husbands brother. As I tried to explain to Sarah once, that means we’re practically related! Right??

  19. Pingback: Kathryn's triple-chocolate bundt cake « liz

  20. katrikoehle

    Not sure how far my connection is… but I’m sure it is there. I just happened upon this blogging thing and I’m totally hooked!
    I found Kelly McCaleb’s site through

    I was at byu probably around the same time. It really is a small world.

    Recently, I have exposed this wonderful world of blogging to many of my friends and some have taken this adventure on themselves.

    So, how about posting the chocolate cake receipe?! :)

  21. Laurie

    What a great concept to talk about! I found your blog because of Katri (who posted before me). :) You’ve completely intrigued me and I’m getting the book. Thanks!

  22. Lisa A

    My connection is really non-existant. Hmm..Maybe you can help me find out how many degrees it is..My Uncle’s son is married to the sister of Kelly McCaleb. Kelly is friends with Stephanie Nielson (Nie Nie) and Courtney Kendrick (C jane). How many degrees is that? Also, my favorite cousin Kelly knows a lot of these Provo girls from Starry Night..A music venue in “downtown” Provo…And can someone plz post that yummy cake recipe. Thanks!

  23. LiaisaGitle

    For a second everything went quiet in the cab, then the driver said, “Look mate, don’t ever do that again. You scared the daylights out of me!”


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