A team of Chinese scientists examined 950 million Facebook users. They eliminated duplicate and fake accounts, and celebrities, and found that the number now appears to be closer to four. This is the case even for rare jobs, like anesthesiologists, but for prolific ones, such as teachers, the number falls closer to three. Wow. Hear those cheers? They’re your company’s salespeople.
In 1967, Stanley Milgram devised an experiment where randomly chosen people from the Midwest had to mail a letter to a banker in Boston, and the package had to be delivered either through a friend or a friend of a friend. If any of the participants knew the banker personally; meaning, on a first-name basis, then they could mail the letter directly to him.
The letters contained a roster that each participant signed before sending it. At the final destination, the rosters were examined, and an average was compiled. In most cases, the letters arrived with five and half or six links. This was rounded up to Six Degrees of Separation.
As early as 2003, an experiment reinforced the Six Degrees, but, here we are, eleven years later, at four, thanks to social media, specifically Facebook. You don’t know an Alaskan fisherman? Well, a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend might. This is simply amazing when you consider there are about seven billion people on Earth.
All of this comes with one major caveat: you must have an online presence. So, it could be that the majority of the U.S. has four degrees of separation; whereas, for members of tribes in the Amazon, it might still remain six.