Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Up Close & Virtual: Six Degrees of Separation

As I was sitting at the dinner table with my mother just the other night, she looked over at me with a look of elated realization on her face and asked me, “Do you know Brad?” It took me a moment of wracking my brain to figure out what Brad she was talking about, Brad Pitt, Brad Paisley? It turns out she meant Brad, my co-worker.
“Of course I know Brad…How do you know Brad?” And then my worst fears since setting my mother up with her Facebook account were realized. She knew information about Brad and all of my co-workers because she’d been spending her days at home exploring their pages. She then continued to explain to me that one person I work with is friends with my second cousin’s ex-boyfriend and another is friends with the guy my sister starred in the high school musical with in 1997.
“It’s a small world, isn’t it?” she preened, as though it weren’t slightly odd for her to be speaking about people that I see every day that she’s never even met. But she had a completely valid point. Social media sites, like Facebook, enable us to uncover connections we never knew existed. It’s the six degrees of separation game gone virtual.
Online services that offer users the chance to uncover genealogy secrets are great, but my mother has found more information about her family through Facebook by speaking to cousins she’s never even met. My friend Eileen, was recently contacted by a relative she never even knew existed. 
Social networking has changed the way that people interact, connect, and discover others on the world wide web. Armed with this new insight, I’m more than prepared to log on to Facebook and find out my six degrees of Kevin Bacon, some long lost relatives, and new friends and faces along the way.

No comments: