What is the shortest, strangest, or most coincidental 6 degrees of separation you've ever had with anyone?

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

For me, I had been dating my first ever boyfriend for about six months. I have no idea how we got on the subject, but I mentioned my mother and her maiden name which he kind of looked at me weird and said that it sounded familiar to him. He calls me later and he's like I know where I've heard that name. He asked his mom and turns out his mom and my aunt were both roommates and sorority sisters in college who had remained good friends.

Also in middle school I asked one of my really good friends to come and pick me up from my house for the first time. Gave him the address, and he's like, oh, you know what, I actually know very well where you live. Turns out his uncle lived right across the street from me longer than I'd actually known my friend.


Most Helpful Guy

  • Well, I attended a pretty small high school in a different city than where I live (I commuted by train) and it just so happened that the guy I always used to ride the train with in my first year was the son of a couple who were old friends of my parents. My parents and that guy's parents had been hanging out a lot in their early and mid 20s. It was quite remarkable that this guy and I were not only in the same grade but also in the same class (in Switzerland we only have one fix class, you're always together with the same people rather than meeting different people depending on whether you're having a math lesson or a history lesson). And we even rode the train together... so that was kinda cool.

    However, generally speaking I don't believe in this six-steps idea. For example I got to know my girlfriend through an absolutely incredible coincidence when she spent one year in my country Switzerland as an exchange student. She was born and lived all her life in South Korea. I have no idea how she and I could possibly be connected through 6 or less steps. None of her friends or family members have ever been to Switzerland. In fact, some of them have never been to Europe at all. As far as I know, they also don't have any European/western friends or acquaintances (at least her family members don't). It doesn't seem very likely that you could somehow find a connection of only 6 steps between her and me... except maybe if you include stuff like "that waitress at the airport restaurant I once had a 1-minute chat with 15 years ago).

    • That's a rather common response to the idea of 6 degrees of separation... this idea that I don't know anyone who would know someone from across the world etc, but its not just about who you personally have in your phone, and yes, it does in fact include that waitress at the airport that one time. It includes anyone on the planet and you don't have to know them personally. Also the girlfriend example is a simple one step connection... you met her through the exchange program. If you didn't know her, your connection might have been a teacher who worked in the exchange program who traveled to S. Korea who met her as part of the program.

    • But I didn't actually meet her because of the exchange program. I mean... that's why she was in my country but I met her on a random walk way in a public park because she got lost. Had she walked a tiny bit faster or had I missed my tram (street car), we wouldn't have met on that small crossing.
      I guess what I'm saying is that the idea just sounds a bit too much like a conspiracy theory to me. In Wikipedia it actually says that researchers have called it a "scientific urban legend". It just seems a little too good to be true (and when idea are too good to be true in science, they're usually not true). Wikipedia later also says "Also, the existence of isolated groups of humans, for example the Korubo and other native Brazilian populations, would tend to invalidate the strictest interpretation of the hypothesis." Think about that for a minute... I mean, there are native tribes in the Brazilian rain forest who have never had any encounters with the modern world. How would that work?

    • I'm by no means claiming the 'system' is perfect and has no flaws, but in terms of people who live in the modern world which is pretty much the majority of people, 6 degrees of separation isn't that hard to believe. Even things like FB do it. You befriend your friends and it suggests links to friends of friends that you may know because of your mutual friend. Same concept. Chance encounters like running into people you knew once after 10 years on a Subway somewhere whilst on vacation, or being late to work so you get coffee, and you end up marrying the barista, these things clearly happen. There is no conspiracy there, just chance, luck, whatever you want to call it. It is not chance you met your girlfriend in the sense that she was an exchange student, she was supposed to be in your country, people DO get lost all the time when they are unfamiliar with a place, you were on your way, you met. You would probably get a kick out of watching the movie, "Sliding Doors."

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What Guys Said 1

  • I am two degrees of separation from Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton, because I've met my last two congressmen at my crime watch meetings. I'm also one degree away from Gary Burgoff of M*A*S*H fame. I met him in a Florida toy store. He was not exactly unfriendly, but he had a rather cold personality, totally opposite of what I expected. I wasn't even asking him about the show or for an autograph. He just walked in and I said hello. He mumbled something and walked away. It was then I learned of his deformed hand. I used to communicate with Larry Gelbart online, who was the creator and producer for the show. He was very nice and mailed me a hand written card shortly before his death. And a good friend of mine was friends with Jon Provost, Timmy from Lassie. He put me on 3 way calling with him one night and we talked for about half an hour, mostly about computers.


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