The Too Small World Theory

The idea of ‘six degrees of separation’ was probably first coined by Frigyes Karinthy, a brilliant Hungarian writer in the early decades of the twentieth century. He realised that humankind was fully connected, and for probably the first time in history it took no more than 5 “hops” of acquaintance to reach literally anyone on Earth. (Interestingly, in the same text, he also mentions Martians.)

Today all social networking is built on this concept, “friends” and “liking” and all that. Some even claim that social networking is therefore an accurate reproduction of our real networks. But our real relationships with people and things aren’t always positive, our virtual relations are blatantly asymmetric.

I like to think it’s because Karinthy, despite his razor-sharp observational satire, was an idealist at heart. He believed in Humanity and Progress and wouldn’t even think of including hostilities in his all-encompassing human network.

But think how different the Web would be if he had been a miserable bastard! Is that film any good? Let’s check the ratings: “12 people liked this, 8 morons hated it”, and you know you’re onto something good here. You could even organise your enemies into groups and send group-specific hate mail or threats. You could forge friendships or alliances with your enemies’ enemies and so on, the opportunities would be endless.

Maybe one day we’ll realise that every living person on this planet is just six punches away.


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: