Degrees of Separation

I randomly stumbled across an article on the internet about the impact of Facebook – or AssBook as I like to think of it since that’s more true – on our society. Apparently the folks who brought you “put all your TMI-esque subjects on the internet” have done a study and concluded something I find shocking:

We have decreased from six to four degrees of separation.

Did you just feel that? Yeah, that. It’s your extra two degrees, multiplied factorial-styleย by the number of folks you know, dropping off and hitting the floor. Many of you out there might – no probably – are sitting there absorbing radiation from your monitor or screen and saying, “BrainRants, why in the fuck is this relevant to me?” Glad you asked, CarcinomaNose. Off the top, I was about to vomit something about the God Particle, so you’re getting off easy today, for one, because I didn’t feel like explaining quantum physics. Doubt you felt like understanding it either.

The most obvious impact here is that Kevin Bacon has just been downgraded. It is now officially too easy to link yourself to Mr. Bacon as there are really only four degrees as opposed to six between you now. How about that shit, I ask you? It doesn’t really matter whether or not you’re thrilled or terrified, either, because Kevin Bacon is now closer to you than ever before.

In reality this indicates the level to which individuals may be considered connected by association with others. This goes back to the game where you pick someone famous (like Kevin Bacon) and link him to yourself via six people. Now you theoretically can do this with four. In fact, the entire ‘six degrees of separation’ is based on an actual experiment conducted a couple of decades back in which a researcher actually did determine that the average number of interpersonal relationships (or ‘jumps’) needed to connect two randomly-selected strangers was around six.

This is actually kind of fucking amazing when you think about it, and it gets worse when you consider that in a few short years, some out-of-the-blue social networking site has lopped off two entire jumps merely by bringing people together online. And that’s just an average. Some of us might have fewer jumps than four. Luckily for Kevin Bacon, my figure is probably still firmly in the high double-digits. Years after my education phase, I’m still skewing the curve for everyone else. And that education, along with this newsy revelation, tells me something very important:

It will only take me four phone calls to get a date with Salma Hayek.

34 Responses to “Degrees of Separation”

  1. And then your dreams would come true?

  2. I would hope Kevin Bacon’s agent will be all over this.

    Also, though, we throw around phrases about “privacy being a thing of the past” or adolescents losing the ability to have a sense of any separation because of constant interconnectivity – but when you actually look at data about it, it’s pretty startling. I really believe we’re witnessing one of the great transformative periods of human history

  3. Good luck with that Salma Hayek date thing. Given how crappy she was in Pirates she may be looking to give her career a boost. You may be it since you’re so closely linked to Kevin Bacon.

  4. I read this article a while back!! … and I was pretty freaked . Wasn’t it 3.4 degrees on average?

  5. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    No offense to Nora but I think that was Penelope Cruz in the Pirates of the Carribean movie.. if thats the one she’s referring to…I must have been the only person who liked that movie..and hey – maybe Kevin Bacon can solve the mystery of what Canadian Bacon is?

  6. I’m following you now which, just like that, reduces our degrees to just one. Magic!

    Hehe. The irony of calling Facebook “Assbook” on your blog while still having the option to share this blog on Facebook.

  7. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    No youre right – he’s American…(no one “gets” my dumbass jokes)

  8. Speaking of Kevin Bacon, we heard an interview with him talking about when that came out. He said he was horrified, thought it’d ruin his career.

  9. Guess what… My brains just did the effort of storing this forever.

  10. John Erickson Says:

    You could’ve done the Higgs boson article. I would’ve explained the hard parts for ya! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Here’s an awesome one for you. You are 4 degrees of separation from Marilyn Monroe. Ready? You know me, I know Grace Lee Whitney, and Grace Lee Whitney worked with Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot”. You’re only 2 degrees from Johnny Cash, who I once met at a book signing. Ditto the entire cast of Star Trek, both the original series and Next Gen.
    Impressed? (You shouldn’t be – even I find it pathetic! ๐Ÿ˜€ )

  11. More like three phone calls and an answering machine, because she’s busy with me.

  12. Have 30 random people in a room, and the odds are 50/50 that two of them will have the same birthday. Not any specific date, but two of them will probably share a birthday.

    Not John E. and I though. We’re so old they didn’t even have months, much less days. Unless you count, the day after the T-Rex s**t.

  13. OK, the way you worded that makes it sound like you think people put TMI on the internet. (I guess that’s pretty much exactly what you just said.) Am I not supposed to do that? Because I think that I am the Queen of TMI.

  14. Wow. What do you have against Canadian bacon?

    Personally, I am attempting to add a few more people between me and Kevin Bacon instead of lopping them off. I need to go now. I think there are some people I need to cut out of my life to make that happen.

  15. You said that your brains store useless information very well, or something like that, in the Nasty post. I recognised it and remembered.

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