IN 1929, Frigyes Karinthy, a Hungarian poet wrote a short story “Chains”, and hinted (rather humorously) at a novel idea: all of us could be connected to each other via a mere six-step link. Many years later, an American (who else) snatched up his view and churned out a play which became an overnight success. Because of this, the 6-step connection gained popularity, and from there, things snowballed. For one, The “6 Degrees of Separation” became a serious theory, and papers and academic discussions on it sprouted left and right. Hollywood movies about it were made, and even a popular song of the same title hit the airwaves just a couple of years ago. 

That reality of having ‘friends of friends’ (ad infinitum) on your social media account will attest that the 6DS theory might indeed prove to be correct. True believers say that because of our growing inter-connectivity brought about by technological advances, such as the internet, six degrees might even be lower, at like five or four degrees. Experiments in the US in 2001 by mathematicians and computer analysts alike, point out that the degree of separation results in both their e-mail and Twitter experiments were actually down to 3 to 3.5 respectively. Sad to say, there has been no report yet of a worldwide testing for the 6DS because It has really got me interested.

For one thing, I’ve experienced it myself. My mate has a friend who lives in the Netherlands, and he has recently married. To her surprise, he had wedded, of all people, her Davao-based officemate. This Dutchie, unbeknownst to me, happens to be the second-degree relative of my longtime friend, who in turn is  the godson of my parents. That’s only four degrees right there, but the synchronicity of it all just boggles the mind. It’s a small world. 

Then while in Perth Australia many years ago, we were introduced to a lady, who brought us to a quaint pinoy restaurant. She introduced us to a waiter whom we befriended. As all introductions go, he got around to saying he once lived in Davao. Okay, that was cool. Then he said, he lived right in our own suburb, in the same block as ours, and surprises of all surprises, used to reside in the lot right in back of our house! 

As all these may amuse us and hint at a rapidly shrinking world, there is likewise a sense of foreboding that goes with it. Not only does this tell me to be wary and expect the unexpected as I now realize why Buddha preaches that we be fair and kind always. It’s better to be careful in all dealings, for you never know, the next person from across the world we clash swords with might turn out to be a relative, a future in-law, or worst, a future spouse. And you know how that goes. 

As my favorite TV show likes to say, the night is dark and full of terrors.

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