Six Degrees

When I was eleven, my cousin told me that his friend’s brother’s friend’s friend was Guy Sebastian, the 2003 winner of Australian Idol. I just thought this was the greatest, most extraordinary discovery ever, so I told all my friends at school the next day. It occurred to me years later that everyone who is on a first-name basis with me is separated by six degrees from Guy Sebastian. So this meant that everyone that they were on a first-name basis with was seven degrees away. I felt so interconnected because this went the other way as well. I would be six degrees away from all of the contestants on that first season of Australian Idol as well as the judges, the hosts and every friend Guy Sebastian had and would make.

The idea that you can be connected to anyone on the planet through six introductions. So maybe my mum’s friend’s cousin once removed’s husband’s best mate’s aunty is Goldie Hawn. Who knows? But you get the idea. We can basically be traced to anyone in the world through any relation they have with anyone on a first-name basis.

For a long time, it was thought that this idea was simply a myth until it there was a major scientific breakthrough made by a group of scientists who used ideas such as the transmission of diseases (specifically STI’s), transport networks like airports and train systems as well as being able to send a message from one side of a stadium to another. It was the use of concepts such as this that allowed this group of scientists to explore this idea. They called it ‘networking.’ In today’s modern-day era of businesses and the Internet, we usually associate that word with making friends to get you higher up in a chain of employees or ‘social networking’ through making friends online. The discoveries that these scientists were able to make, and the fact that they were able to find each other and collaborate was shown in a BBC documentary entitled ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’

One of the scientists, Marc Videl, devised an experiment where he sent a package to people around the world, urging them to send it to him without looking up his name on the Internet. The idea was that these people would be able to do so through sending it to people who they thought would be able to bring it closer to Videl in Boston. While most of the packages did not make it back, the average amount of steps it took was six.

Being the typical Gen Y that I am, I immediately thought of all the YouTube collaborations I had seen and how through one connection, a YouTuber would be able to work with several others. When I was thirteen, I had my first love, there was nobody could compared to mah baby and nobody came between us who could ever come above. HAHAHA, sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Anyway, when I was thirteen, I was introduced to two supposedly opposing Youtubers, NigaHiga and KevJumba. They were experiencing a growth in popularity and so they were pinned against each other… Or at least that’s what I was told. Regardless of this rivalry they apparently had, they eventually formed a friendship and went on to collaborate with other YouTubers such as Wong Fu Productions, Chester See and David Choi… And those are only a few. I could obviously also mention Kina Grannis and Cathy Nguyen. Ryan Higa of NigaHiga and Kevin Wu of KevJumba went on to collaborate with YouTube stars Chester See, Victor Kim and Dominic Sandoval from Quest Crew as well as Andrew Garcia and JR Aquino who were both contestants on American Idol. Together, the seven founded ‘YTF.’ Since then, Wu has become inactive in the group. However, Higa, Wu and See have recently started a YouTube Network called ‘YOMYOMF‘ which featured various Hollywood stars including Jessica Alba and Masi Oka in its introductory video. I think it is pertinent to add that it was a connection that Wu made during the early parts of his YouTube career involving a staring contest video that challenged towards Alba that can be concluded as being the reason she became a part of this, his later project.

Wikipedia also brings to light how social networking website like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter explore this idea of ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’ LinkedIn has a very obvious relation with this concept, letting users know “how many steps you are away from a person you wish to communicate with” Similarly, Twitter users can create networks and Facebook users can use an app to calculate the degrees of separation. 

There is a creepy sense of warmth in knowing I am in such close quarters with everyone on Earth. While it is not an absolute conclusion, it’s pretty much there and I’m happy with pretty much. I’d like to think that the people I know can be awesome friends and resources at the same time.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

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