Six degrees of separation is defined as the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called “Chains.”
Although the theory hasn’t been proven to be an absolute fact worldwide, Facebook (FB), which I joined just a couple of months ago is proving the theory to be the truth – at least when it comes to black America. How? By linking to my friends’ friends, they are all quickly becoming my friends. And as they become my friends, I am being exposed to lots of their friends and relatives, both near and far. I thought about that the other day when I saw a small blurb that had gone out over the newswire. FB will now keep the profiles of deceased members of the social networking site available online. Their pages will clearly be marked as being a memorial to them and viewable only by family and friends.
If you’re not familiar with FB, let me tell you how it works. Once you join and get your personal page, the site will automatically begin to recommend others to become your friends. Or you can use your e-mail list to search out friends and relatives already signed up for the site. As you are linked to those individuals, they all become a part of your social networking group. FB also asks you to recommend friends who are not already a part of the site to join in; thus ensuring that the social circle is never ending. In a nutshell, it’s like having your next door neighbor introduce you to their friends and relatives on the next block and those folks then introduce you to their friends and relatives who live blocks away and then those folks introduce you to their friends and relatives all across the country. And on and on.
What I like best is when FB recommends people to become my new friend. That person usually has at least one other person in common with me. Sometimes the person we have in common is still someone I really don’t know but a friend of someone I do know. Even more astonishing is when FB recommends someone to be my friend and tells me that the new person and I have over 100 friends in common even though I have never met that person in my entire life.
FB also has us mentally bound together as we check out the information people post to the site about themselves. If one person has good news, we can all bask in their happiness. If a member of our circle says someone in their family is ill, we can all post messages of encouragement. If there is bereavement, we can all offer our condolences.
It was during one of those sessions of offering condolences to a McClendon family member that a thought occurred to me. If FB can have me meeting and knowing hundreds and hundreds of people via other people, surely some of the people I am meeting have friends and relatives already incarcerated. And as our world becomes an even smaller place, I wondered if we could send out a “six degrees of separation” message in advance to warn those hoodlums who kill in our community that one of the first people to meet and greet them in prison will be, unbeknownst to them, a relative or friend of the person they killed?
Think about it. The hoodlums who create the mayhem in our community don’t fear going to jail. “Three hots and a cot” has always been the trademark response when we have tried to lecture them about their wayward ways. They are members of a street gang and going to prison means that they will have their “homies” to hang with.
Prior to FB, one would need to plot out an entire family tree to show how interconnected many of us are. With FB, it’s just a click of the mouse away to learn that the person killed is not just “Pookie from the corner,” but someone’s baby’s mama’s cousin’s daddy’s uncle’s brother’s son. Maybe the only option we have left is to send a blunt message in a way that some of our future killers can easily comprehend. When you kill, understand that awaiting your arrival in prison will be someone who is related to or knows the victim. And the greeting that they will have for you won’t be the soul brother handshake or a pat on the back.