In my last blog, I stated that we are supposedly 6 steps away from everyone else in the world. Or least we were, according to Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy in his 1929 short story ‘Chains.’ Then, in the 1960s, a psychologist named Stanley Milgram confirmed Karinthy’s idea as a reality in a study of 296 people sending postcards around the world. Thus six degrees of separation became enshrined in the human collective mind.
That’s all changed now. Apparently researchers from the University of Milan have conducted a new study, this time of a rather larger sample of 721 million Facebook users. The result is that today we are 3.74 steps away from everyone else in the world.
How we should treat the odd .74 is beyond me. But the new study does raise a few other issues. Firstly, it seems a good enough reason not to be a member of Facebook. Secondly, the thought of my father being 3.74 steps away from Hitler is a little distressing. Thirdly, with Italy allegedly in dire financial straits, does it not warm the heart to see that funds can be found for such futile purposes?
Anyway, I take this opportunity to correct my earlier assertion.