4.74 degrees of Kevin Bacon.
It may sound odd but that’s the new title of everyone’s favorite trivia game. Or at least that’s technically what it should be.
Scientists at Facebook and the University of Milan recently released the average number of acquaintances separating any two people in the world – 4.74. The original “six degrees” number that we have come to know was from a 1967 study.
Over time, studies have updated the findings but this is the first that has drastically shrunk the number. In 2008, Microsoft found that the average number was 6.6. Yet that was only based on the actual exchange of messages, not who you know and identify as a friend.
So this new 4.74 number presents a new dialogue.
Is the idea of a friend evolving with the growth of social media and better communication tools or are people becoming less aware of what a friend actually is? Probably a little of both.
The Facebook study was based on who people are “friends” with on Facebook. Therefore, those users that friend people without ever meeting them are skewing the study towards the low end.
Nevertheless, the number is a telling indicator that social media is changing how often we connect with others and how easy it is to meet new people.