by Obafemi Fawibe
Ever heard about the “six degrees of separation.”? it’s a very popular idea, yet very few know the origin.
Technology has made things pretty simple. Information travels faster than it used to be. Yet solving each problem generates a new problem.
It’s the new month and BBM broadcasts are rolling in their hordes. Every BB user dreads Broadcast Messages (BCs). While some might be informational like job vacancies, alerts etc. some are outrightly stupid. Like sending messages to 10/15 people to upgrade your BBM or WhatsApp. You can get the same message from over 20 people who you are sure they do not know each other. However, the frequency and delivery channel of such BCs fascinate me. I mean how does A gets the message from Z when K sends the message to Z and Z sends the message to B,N,O, Q & L? Oh! Don’t bother tracing the route. I’m lost myself. The paragraph below explains how.
Ever heard about the “six degrees of separation.”? It’s a very popular idea, yet very few know the origin.
Research has it that we are only six people away from anyone we would ever like to meet, i.e to meet the President of the United States of America (POTUS), Barack Obama, you are only six people from him. This phenomenon is what we call six degrees of separation. How could this be?
In the late 1960s, the psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to find an answer to what is known as the small-world problem. The problem is this: how are human beings connected?
Do we all belong to separate worlds, operating simultaneously but autonomously, so that the links between any two people, anywhere in the world, are few and distant? Or are we all bound up together in a grand interlocking web?
Milgram’s idea was to test this question with a chain letter. He got the names of 160 people who lived in Omaha, Nebraska, and mailed each of them a packet. In the packet was the name and address of a stockbroker who worked in Boston and lived in Sharon, Massachusetts.
Each person was instructed to write his or her name on the packet and send it on to a friend or acquaintance who he or she thought would get the packet closer to the stockbroker.
If you lived in Omaha and had a cousin outside of Boston, for example, you might send it to him, on the grounds that — even if your cousin did not himself know the stockbroker— he would be a lot more likely to be able to get to the stockbroker in two or three or four steps.
The idea was that when the packet finally arrived at the stockbroker’s house, Milgram could look at the list of all those whose hands it went through to get there and establish how closely connected someone chosen at random from one part of the country was to another person in another part of the country. Milgram found that most of the letters reached the stockbroker in five or six steps. This experiment is where we get the concept of six degrees of separation.
However, now that we in the era of social media, is it still six or has it reduced? How many tweets/follows away are you from the POTUS?
Obafemi Fawibe is a blogger and soon to be published author. He is a social media enthusiast, sapiosexual and an unwavering believer in a new Nigeria. He blogs atwww.obafemifawibe.wordpress.com and tweets from @phemyte
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.