Ever heard the phrase ‘Six degrees of separation’? It’s intended meaning is that every person in the world is potentially 6 steps or people away from an introduction to everyone else on earth.
Well where did this theory come from? It is thought to have come originally from a Hungarian author called Frigyes Karinthy. In 1929 he published a series of short articles including a piece called ‘Chains’ and although fictional he hypothesised that because of increased, wealth, ability to travel, social mobility and better communication that the world was shrinking and as a result he wrote that any two characters in his story could be connected through no more than five acquaintances only one of whom was known personally.
This was nearly 100 years ago now, and in my opinion despite the world’s population more than trebling from approx 2 billion in 1929 to over 7 billion in 2012 ‘Six degrees of separation’ is even more likely to be true today. Why is this? It’s obvious isn’t it? – the Internet!
With social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin this is a real possibility, to demonstrate this I’ve recently connected with a 9 th cousin on Facebook, I’ve been Tweeted by Olympic Gold Medallists and introduced friends to Premiership Football Managers through Linkedin. Prior to the internet surely these type of interactions would have been at the most extremely unlikely for an ordinary person like me.
However the bit that really interests me is how the internet has opened up the possibilities for us to trace our ancestors, our roots. Since developing a personal interest in Genealogy some years ago, I’ve made a series of seemingly random discoveries about how I’m connected to people and places. I have noticed that the harder I look the more connections I seem to find.
As a result a handful of my friends are now also in my family tree as are 2 ex girlfriends and my current girlfriend is also my 11th cousin. No jokes about in breds from Norfolk please.
So with sites like Ancestry.com and Genes Reunited, as long as you have the time and the patience it’s relatively easy to trace your tree and shrink your world, but this can be time consuming and frustrating.
In January 2012 I created a website called http://www.mypastforme.com to help people trace their ancestors. If you don’t have the time, patience or knowledge but would really like to have a permanent record of your Family Tree, for future generations or even an elderly mother or father then please check the website.
Feature picture is the Earl Family from the North End area of King’s Lynn, included in the picture is my G Grandfather William Jacob Earl and his Father William Whitehead Earl. The Northenders as they were known was a poor, hardworking and proud community located in the dock area of the port town of King’s Lynn.