The old saying that everyone in the world is only 6 people away from knowing everyone else is a well known saying. The argument is, everyone is linked to each other whether it be via friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, one way or another, you are 6 people away from knowing someone. But new research has said that it may now be nearly half that at only 3.74 degrees (how you get .74 of a human being I’m not quite sure…). But why the sudden increase in social awareness and contacts world wide? You guessed it, social media! Primarily Facebook. In May of this year, Facebook conducted a study on active members in an effort to see if the rumour of separation was true at 6 or if modern life had indeed made it easier to communicate with people world wide. The experiment, carried out by Facebooks data curator, Lars Backstrom on all active Facebook members (ie, had logged in once in 28 days). Using social network data of 721 million members, he had roughly 10% of the world wide population to test the theory upon. He along with four others, were able to examine and crunch the data and conclude that social media had in fact, nearly slashed the 6 degree rule in half.
- Although Facebook caps the amount of friends you can have to 5,000, they found that the median was only 100 friends or 0.000014% of Facebook’s users.
- 99.6% of these 100 people were connected by 5 degrees and 92% were connected by 4 degrees.
- The average distance between any two users was 3.74 degrees
- In 2008 it was believed the separation was at a higher 4.28 degrees so a decrease in septation of 0.54 degrees.
There Is No Such Thing As Strangers, Just Friends You Haven’t Met Yet
If you didn’t the world was a small enough place already, Facebook and social media are making it even smaller. It’s so easy to sit on your bed, login to the internet and surf social networking sites, following anyone you like on Twitter, accept friend requests and starting conversations. Obviously, there are people who will add and follow anyone, whether they know them or not so these new findings are not fool proof. It’s the same as if you bump into someone in the street, yes you have connected but no you wouldn’t know them to be a link in their chain. Social media makes it easier to connect but not necessarily know, love or care about the people you connect with so this idea should be taken with a pinch of salt. However, it’s beyond dispute that social networks can make it easier to make friends so maybe there is a chance you may well be connected to the person sat opposite you in the coffee shop…
~Articles mentioned in this post: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15844230
~ Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pratanti