Every Degree Counts


By Shannon Elliott 
@shan_an_anon

Before Facebook and other social media platforms began to integrate themselves into our everyday lives, communities were based off of physical communities in the “real world.” However, in today’s highly interactive and online world, communities are beginning to take shape and evolve along with society.

As the idea of communities expand, so does the interconnectivity of the world. Specifically, the idea of six degrees of separation, stating that everyone in the world is connected by six people or less, is changing drastically.

The six degrees of separation idea has captivated audiences around the world and in response, trivia games have followed in pursuit.

The idea of six degrees of separation is no stranger to the actor Kevin Bacon. In the early 90’s, a pair of college students created a game, “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” which expanded off of the six degrees of separation ideology. Initially, according to CNN,  Bacon was “mortified” by the game.

Although, he soon came around to the idea. Now, Bacon’s not afraid to join in on the fun.

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The six degrees of separation ideology has captivated audiences around the globe, and rightly so. Out of the billions of people in the world, it’s surreal to think that every individual is connected.

With the rise of social media and connectivity on online platforms, Facebook dug a little deeper into this mentality and found that the degrees of separation may be outdated. Specifically, Facebook found that because of online communities, there are fewer degrees of separation than there were before social media took over.

Facebook has demonstrated the evolution of the six degrees of separation concept in a 2016 research study. In the study, Facebook concluded that there are now only three and a half degrees of separation between everyone in the world. This study was based off of the 1.59 billion people on Facebook. The Facebook team created an algorithm based off of their site data and analytics to conduct the research.

This research reiterates the idea that because of social media and online communities, the world is becoming more interconnected. Additionally, because of the research conducted by Facebook, there is now quantitative data to support the positive influences social media and online communities have in terms of connecting people around the world. 

 

This Article Has 3 Comments
  1. Marisa Cesare says:

    Great post! I’ve always found the concept of six degrees of separation really interesting. Social media is a great tool to measure this idea and show how interconnected the world really is. It shows why social media should be used not only to stay in touch with friends and family, but also as a tool for professional networking.

  2. Brianna Martin says:

    Hi Shannon, this was a very interesting read. Personally, I hadn’t heard of the 6 Degrees of Separation theory, but I find it fascinating. The thought that we are all connected in such a way seems difficult to prove, yet isn’t that hard for me to believe. The world is connected in more ways than we know, and social media has definitely played a role in human connection. As you said, social media has allowed us to connect in a way that we simply cannot in reality. However, the overconsumption of social media and technology has also managed to distance us from reality and one another. For example, I may be better able to connect with a friend across the globe, but be distracted from my friend who is talking right in front of me because I am absorbed into social media.

  3. Olivia Determan says:

    I think it is interesting that Facebook did a study of the degrees of separation. Who better to find who you have a friend in common with than Facebook? While reading I was trying to imagine in my head what my degree of separation might look like. I imagined it like a tree, each branch a new connection. I had never heard of the degree of the six degrees of separation before, so this was a very interesting read!

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