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The Six Degrees of Separation: We're Not Really Strangers

In a world of billions, travel can help one grow more connections than ever. But, as Eve writes, it can also help you explore your links to home.

By Eve Baird, Third Year English

The Croft Magazine // In a world of billions, travel can help one grow more connections than ever. But, as Eve writes, it can also help you explore your links to home.

Have you ever seen someone somewhere you’re not expecting them? It is always a strange experience and sometimes out of context it is even difficult to recognise them. Seeing a teacher outside of school was always a shocking experience as a child, realising they too do a weekly shop and trawl their trolley through supermarket aisles just didn’t make sense to me.

Taking advantage of being out of context is also how many celebrities hide in plain sight. Who is expecting to see a TV star on the train?  This is certainly the case when you see someone you know when travelling. My own grandparents once shared an airport golf buggy through Gatwick Airport following a flight from Perth Australia with BAFTA award winning actress Miriam Margolyes and didn’t realise it was her until they left the airport. Many people travel to explore more diverse cultures and expand their connections by meeting new people. How is it possible then that even on the other side of the world you can find people with a link to home?

Ⓒ Bernado Santos

There is a saying that everyone in the world is only five people away from any other individual. This is known as the six degrees of separation and suggests that through various relationships, friendships and acquaintances you will know someone who knows someone and eventually one can find a common thread with every new person they meet.

Even with the world’s population now growing to near eight billion this phenomenon is only becoming more obvious through features such as Instagram’s mutual followers feature. Now when travelling if any Instagram user adds someone new, they can immediately see anyone they have in common, (location being no barrier) something that previously may not have been discovered until much later conversations and sometimes not at all.

As travel becomes cheaper and further accessible more and more individuals will be meeting increased numbers of people from further afield, increasing the chances of running in to them again.

Ⓒ Finnuala Brett

Having the opportunity to travel to popular locations also makes it more likely that you will run in to someone you know or a connection that fits with the six degrees of separation. For example, even as I write this, I have two friends on weekends away in Paris - neither of whom knows the other and who have almost certainly walked past each other without realising their mutual connection.

Travel gives you the opportunity to explore the world and expand your connections, but also to explore your connections to home.

Ⓒ Vera Silsbury

Have you ever found met someone familiar in an unlikely place?