Hello, fellow writers.
For quite a while now, I have been reflecting on the concept of six degrees of separation. For those who do not know what that is, it is a theory that every person you have ever met can in someway be traced to another person in your network of acquaintances in six steps or less. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article if you wanted further explanation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation. In this post, I discuss memories in my life pertaining to the 6 degrees theory before questioning it’s meaning and purpose to mankind in the last two paragraphs.
I’m not sure why this theory has been so prevalent in my mind lately. Maybe because I’ve been reminiscing memories from a small town I used to live in, where everyone knew everybody. For example, I recall a shocking coincidence I found upon taking a selfie together with my best friend from that small town. She was requesting my permission for sharing the photo by listing the names of various peers she wished to send it to. Name after name went by with a nod of my approval until she got to the part of her contacts that did not go to our school.
“There’s just this one girl,” my friend mentioned.
We’ll call her Sarah for the purpose of this blog.
“You don’t know her, but I met her at my church friend’s party and I trust her with the photo,” said my friend.
My head whipped up from the French worksheets I was absentmindedly scanning. “Wait, Sarah… Ballinger?”
It turns out that this Sarah Ballinger was the daughter of my soccer coach, who’s house I was just at for dinner, the day before, to meet his family. When we met just hours before, how could I have known that a supposed stranger, was connected to such a significant friend of mine, by just three steps? It is possibly memories like these that have been reminding me of the six degrees theory and how intertwined human life is.
Or perhaps the real reason that my thoughts dwell on this notion as of late is because I just finished reading a novel that handles this topic as a minor theme. Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles is a novel speaking on the personal struggles faced by fictitious high school characters. Unknown to the characters, is that they are all connected by their struggles or the people in their lives and if they only realized their similarities, their lives would become easier. The characters in this very creative novel (on which I soon intend to write a book review!) are connected in a way that resembles the six steps between real life human interactions.
Then again, the six degrees theory that pervades my mind could simply be a reminisce of this video by the Youtuber Jonah Green that sparked my imagination a few years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2wIjcCvAqA. Jonah hits the hammer on the head by explaining that everything in his life, down to the video itself is ultimately connected through 6 degrees to some guy years ago who wanted to start a band.
No matter what the reason, I just can not stop marveling in this scientific phenomenon. In a world of 7 billion people, the dimensions of time, fate and space somehow warp and sync themselves so that every human interaction is in someway connected to the next. More fascinating to me, than the actual phenomenon, is the question of why. Why would time and space choose to focus their complex powers on connecting human lives in groups of six? Grand galactic cosmos exist in this universe that by far surpass the lifespan or significance of this small Earth with tiny humans that are lucky to live to age 80. What is the meaning of such great powers choosing to exert energy on creating synced intersections in our tiny, minuscule human lives? I guess it’s one of those psychological, theoretic questions that mankind will never truly know the answer to. However, I choose to add significance to this prodigy by letting it motivate me to respect and get to truly know people in my everyday environment.
It’s so easy to walk past a homeless person struggling on the street and ignore their pleas for food or money. To assume that we have no moral obligation to help because they are “just some random stranger.” It’s even easy to walk past the acquaintances of our workplace or school hallways, never inquiring farther than a, “How are you?” responded to with a simple, “Good,” before we are satisfied. This is because we regard these people as relatively insignificant figures in our social network that have nothing to do with our lives, goals or ambitions. However, these “random strangers” that surround us could be what our very success or the success of our loved ones oil down to. Suppose a conversation with a co-worker about their hobbies leads us to a new exhilarating pass-time or career we would have never ventured out into on our own. Imagine the results of inquiring further than that lame response of “Good,” to a topic like someone’s favourite music. Lo and behold, one might finally consume the melodic nourishment of which you had been starved for all their life. To boot, the ignored homeless person was never truly a “random stranger” because in only 6 steps, we know they in some way co-relate to a significant person in our lives. Say they happen to be the grandchild of a beloved senior-year math teacher who endlessly worked to prep someone for a daunting diploma (SAT if you’re from the States.) Suddenly, the person would want to help stranger as a means of repaying their math grade savior. These are examples of why we must refrain from thinking of unfamiliar citizens as random and instead treat everybody as respectable individuals. To disrespect or disregard someone as if they were a random stranger is to disrespect and disregard this sacred synchronicity and connection that intertwines all of our lives.
I encourage you, fellow reader, to respect and treasure the interactions of your life as well as strive to understand those around you before you judge them. Though some people might seem to be an insignificant aspect of our lives, we see through the six degrees theory that they may end up being the most important aspect of all.