I was just thinking today how strange and unbelievably possible the theory of “six degrees of separation” really is in today’s world. The topic came about when a friend of mine realized that we had a mutual friend at the University of Texas and that spawned a series of other strange coincidences and similar stories from those around us. Is it more possible today because of technology and the global network that has been created because of the internet and advances in technology? This then takes me to the very short poem “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound.
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
When you think about all of the people and all of the faces you cross paths with on a daily basis you must ask yourself—by how many degrees do I know that person. I feel as though most of us get on the metro, bus or car every morning on our way to our day’s duties and don’t stop and think about the thousands of people we see doing the exact same thing and wonder if we in some strange way know them. Are they just faces in the crowd? Think about those people that you strike up a brief conversation with about the weather or last night’s big game. Did you just create another degree or if you had continued your conversation would you have realized that degree already exists and you have someone in common.
Saying “it’s a small world” is quite ironic because the world population is growing daily yet everyone seems to think it keeps getting smaller because of the connections and relationships we have formed across continents, between languages and beyond cultures. What does the future hold for the “six degrees of separation” and it is my belief that the saying may change and become a lower number of degrees if the world continues to connect in various technological ways. So next time you come across a sea of faces in a crowd ask yourself the questions I have posed and consider how you may know one of them.