‘I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find it A) extremely comforting that we're so close, and B) like Chinese water torture that we're so close because you have to find the right six people to make the right connection... I am bound to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people.’
from Six Degrees of Separation, John Guare
We’ve all heard this story, the idea that everyone is connected to everyone else by five people or less. This theory is certainly probable since the event of Facebook, Linked-in and all of the social networks in between. I laughed the other day when I saw that there are only two people standing between me and the Dutch Prime Minister, but I couldn’t have cared less. Far more interesting are the crazy connections I have discovered this past year.
About a year ago, with a little help from Facebook, I got in touch with a friend from twenty years back. Nothing special about that, certainly - I’ve also found friends I haven’t seen or spoken to for 35 years. But, as you may suspect, there is more to this story. Turns out we both married Dutch people. Funny coincidence. They lived in the States and we lived in Holland. Further investigation led to the discovery that his (ex)wife’s boyfriend before him had the same name as my (ex)husband, and that my ex-husband had also dated a woman who had the same name as his ex-wife around the same time. It couldn’t be! We had to find out. No, not the same people, but still pretty spooky.
My friend recently attended a funeral. Later that evening, he was chatting with a good friend of his ex-wife’s brother. This man lived in the same town as I do. My friend mentioned me and showed him a picture - he recognized me right away. Turns out he lives a block from my house, I know him, his child goes to the same school as my children, and he has even rented office space from my ex-husband.
Yesterday, an acquaintance came up to me at school. She’s a good friend of one of my best friends and we’d once catered a party at her house. She’s been a Facebook friend for a while, but apparently she’d only just noticed something. “You know ---? His ex-wife is a friend of mine! We went to university together and lived in the same house!” To say I was stunned to find out that a woman living a block away from my house has met the man I dated when I was 25 and is friends with his ex-wife is putting it mildly. I was practically speechless. All I could say was “No way! No way!”
Today, I was telling the story to my business partner. Turns out she went to high school with my acquaintance! Let me add here that not one of these people is originally from anywhere near the city I currently live in, and I don’t live in a cool place like Amsterdam, or Rotterdam, or even Utrecht - it’s Nowhereville!
I’m very curious to see what I will discover next. Actually, when I think about it, with the exception of reconnecting with my long-lost friend, not a scrap of technology was necessary to connect anyone in this story. This could have happened 100 years ago - only then we would have had to bump into each other again somewhere fabulously romantic, such as a transatlantic luxury liner. :-)
(image courtesy of Wikipedia)