Six degrees of separation in practice

A long time ago I noticed that, very often, when I met someone for the first time, I found out that they knew someone I already knew. Usually, we said: such a small world. But lately, I know people who know some other people who know me and they all live in different parts of the world. Indeed, the world is small, but in a much bigger sense. Just yesterday a friend told me about somebody’s teenager that, apparently, committed suicide (jumped from the third floor). As we talked about it, she mentioned the family’s last name and I recognized it: I had met the unfortunate mother few years ago. I had had no idea that my friend knew her as well. This is only the newest example, and I could go on and on about many more. So, are we really only six people removed from somebody else? Is it possible? And how so?

Painting by Helen Davidson

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