Six Degrees of Separation

Kevin Bacon has made some great movies, don’t you think?

For a long time, our favorite here in Saunderstown has been Apollo 13.

To be honest, it’s not the kind of film we’d usually pick, and we can’t put our finger on the reason we like it so much.  Perhaps it’s because the character Kevin Bacon plays – Captain Jack Swigert, the pilot on the abortive moon mission of 1970 – is, a little like us here in our studio in Rhode Island, aiming for the stars.

It’s not his movies that endear us most to this Hollywood icon these days, though. You see, our researchers have just delivered a report that, to us at least, is more gripping than FootlooseJFK andFlatliners all rolled into one.

If connection is your thing – and, as you must have realized, it is ours – you’re sure to have heard of the Six Degrees concept.

This is, at its roots, a complicated scientific theory, its complexities far beyond our understanding, but thanks to Kevin Bacon, it’s most basic premise has found a place in popular culture and our consciousness.

That premise? Something that we’ve been telling you for ages: WE’RE ALL CONNECTED!!!!

Have you ever played a trivia game called The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? It was spawned, unwittingly, in 1994 when our hero remarked during an otherwise-unremarkable magazine interview that he had, at one time or another, worked with everyone in Hollywood, or at least with someone who had worked with them.

Three college students in Pennsylvania read the resulting article and took the comment literally, much more literally than it had been intended. The trio – sharing our own interest in the connective – began to do some research.

It’s possible that alcohol was involved at this stage, yet the deeper their investigations took them, the more connections became clear. Before long a game was born, it’s aim to connect Kevin Bacon  to other Hollywood stars in the fewest possible steps – that is, movies. In theory, at least, it seems it’s possible to link Kevin Bacon with anyone else in the film business in six or fewer such stages.

Take Elvis Presley as a simple example. He starred alongside Ed Asner in the 1969 movie Change of Habit. Ed Asner was in JFK in 1991 and so was Kevin Bacon.

You can take it a step further, if you like. Bela Lugosi appeared in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein alongside Vincent Price in 1948. Vincent Price featured in The Raven in 1963 with Jack Nicholson. Jack Nicholson, in turn, appeared in A Few Good Men in 1992 with Kevin Bacon.

That, in a nutshell, is the game, a phenomenon that soon went far beyond being a mere trick to be played at student parties and became a book and a board-game.

Have you tried it?   It’s strange, but  it does work.

It’s cute, for sure, a neat game, a clever trick. But it’s so much more than that – it’s not just a game, it’s real, an introduction to what connects us all, and that’s what speaks to us here in Saunderstown.

For in life – and not just in movies – we are all connected. This example is a mere insight. For this goes far beyond Kevin Bacon, this is about us all.

You see, The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is based upon a scientific theory, first established almost 100 years ago by the eminent Hungarian Frigyes Karinthy, suggesting that on average, no-one on Earth is more than six steps – six relationships – away from anyone else.

It is called the Six Degrees of Separation, or The Human Spider Web.  It is a complex theory, based on a simple notion, and although it sounds far fetched, it has been proven, at Harvard, during a project called The Small World Experiment and, more recently, at Microsoft HQ.

This topic is too big to tackle in one blog, but it’s something we’ll be sure to revisit in the future.  For now, please rest assured that what we’ve been telling you is correct and beyond dispute.

We are all connected, be it through our friendships, our jobs, our OMs or otherwise.

So let’s keep making our connections.

This is a small world,

And It can be a better world when we are connected.

“I see 100 million OMs…..and a world where people are connected”

S Paul Carlson

The journey to connect begins with a single word……OM.

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