Facebook marked its 12th anniversary on Thursday by gifting everyone's timeline with a nice, customized "Friends Day" video, featuring photos of you and your good-looking friends over the years. While that's cool, and definitely cheesy, what's way cooler is a new Facebook tool that reveals how closely connected you are to every single person on the social network, Kevin Bacon-style, or by degrees of separation. As it turns out, the average is much lower than six.
In fact, the average degrees of separation between any pair of Facebook users has decreased over the last five years, from 3.74 in 2011 to 3.57 today, according to a blog post from the company. As Facebook puts it, that means, "Each person in the world (at least among the 1.59 billion people active on Facebook) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people." In the US, the number is even lower, at 3.46 degrees of separation. The post will show your own average degrees of separation from everyone on Facebook, too.
You probably know the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game, but the whole "degrees of separation" concept has been around for a while now, and is based on how many people it takes to link you to another person. An easy way to look at it is that your best friend Debra is one degree of separation from you. Debra is friends with Amy (who is two degrees of separation from you), and Amy is friends with Steve Buscemi, who as a result, is three degrees of separation from you, and so on, and so on.
It's important to remember, though, that the Facebook numbers are based on statistical algorithms and only include the people on Facebook, and not the more than 6 billion people on Earth. But even if it's just through Facebook and not exactly IRL, we're all a helluva a lot more closely connected than you would think... or like to be.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and his average degrees of separation from everyone is 3.19. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.