Wednesday, October 31, 2007

6 Degrees of Separation

I believe there's a movie by this name which had in it a very young Will Smith or someone looking like him. Anyway, what caught my fancy about "6 degrees of separation" was the concept and not the movie, so let me talk about the concept.

As concepts go, this one is remarkable because it is basically saying that we know everybody and everybody knows us. It has managed to convey the essence of saying "The world we live in is a small enough place to know everyone in it" though I am not sure why anyone needs to use such obscure terminology to say such a simple thing. May be because of the fact that we as people tend to ignore simple things while paying more attention to anything that sounds, acts, feels, smells, tastes or looks obscure and complicated. May be it's just a manifestation of our need to look like we are smart, whether or not we really are. Anyway, I don't know much about the human psyche, so let me not dwell on it.

As concepts go, this one is also remarkable because someone actually had the patience to meet a very large portion of the world's population to come to this "Everyone knows Everyone" conclusion. However this (these) person (persons), who came up with the 6 degrees concept, must have met only a significantly large sample of the world population and not the whole of it because that feat would have been a practical impossibility. It's a fact, at least in a few countries around the world, that people are reproducing faster than active bunny rabbits using the big V. And that's a lot faster than anyone can count. To account for everyone who qualify to be called 'Population' in such countries would therefore become a never ending job and hence my supposition that the world's population was only sampled and not fully taken into account for coming up with this concept. Nevertheless, it is still remarkable.

This concept is however not empirical. Anything which has a sample of the whole as the basis for its existence will obviously not qualify for the exclusivity which the "Empirical" tag automatically bestows. By its very nature of being born out of a sample, this concept will have exceptions. And we should all be thankful for these exceptions. Think about it. Would you rather know your Mom or Dad directly or know them because they are neighbors to the Guy who has an ex-Girlfriend whose Brother happens to be working in the same place as the Owner of the house You are living in?


Jamie said...

Interesting post. I couldn't imagine being able to know everyone in the world...not sure I would even want to. There are some scary people out there!

me said...

Very true Jamie. There are some scary people out there.

I think this concept is just to show how the world is connected into one big social net-work rather than to exactly say "I know each and every person living".

Stinkypaw said...

When I saw that movie I thought it was scary to think that "somehow" we were all connected. But as times goes, I realise that the world is indeed a small place!