In 1967, an American social psychologist named Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment that tracked chains of acquaintances between people in the United States. Through a series of packages sent by mail, Milgram looked to test how closely connected we are with our fellow humans, even those living halfway across the country. The study became known as the “small world experiment,” and among Milgram’s test subjects, he found a median of five people between any two selected individuals, or as it has been referred to in pop culture and Hollywood trivia games, “six degrees of separation.”
Over the years, even while his conclusion has gained traction among average people, the scientific community has challenged its validity and the reliability of his experiment. Regardless of the conclusion’s veracity, the small world of Milgram’s theory has become even smaller with the introduction of the internet and social media. This is especially notable today, as the social media giant Facebook celebrates its 12th birthday.
Shrinking the Modern World