Small world syndrome
As the world’s population grows and our cities swell, does the concept of ‘small world’ apply any more? I personally am a fervent believer in small world theory and degrees of separation. We like to think of ourselves as independent
entities drifting through our lives with each decision made on a whim and ourselves as unique, unpredictable savants. This view is beautiful but naive. As I mentioned before there are already billions of people in the world and this population grows everyday. Within the framework of our society there are certain guidelines by which most people live their lives. Therefore if you have enough people within a tightly controlled set of parameters you are are bound to start coming up with certain patterns and repetitions. How often have you thought of a brand new concept only to have found that somebody has already thought of it. I’m still staggered by how even the most obscure phrase will be completed by Google before I’ve even finished typing.
So is it any wonder that we bump into people we know by chance all the time when statistically such a large city should limit those encounters (lets not even get started on virtual worlds). But once you accept that there are only small variations of people in the population the coincidence starts to shrink. we frequent the place we like and befriend people we share interests with so is it any surprise that the people we share so much in common with happen to visit the same places as us? Some people might shrink from this realization that maybe we aren’t as unique and important as we’d like, that there are lots of people like us and we aren’t really all that special. But what of the joy in the ordinary? Isn’t it something of a relief to know that you aren’t the center of the universe but only a tiny cog turning with the rest of the us? This could be used to help bring empathy back into what has become a culture of the me instead of the us. Knowing that you are a small part of the whole and helping to build, shape and guide that whole is frequently in the vocabulary of nations and business but I’d rather you concentrated on something more tangible and closer to home. Your communities both physical and virtual. Applying yourself in your own small way, knowing that pretty much everyone is the same as you can only help your communities.