Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Facebook Bridge to Improbability

Interlocking connections and improbable networks have always ruled my life. More than one friend has said that "Six Degrees of Separation" becomes "Three Degrees of Separation" if I am somewhere in the nexus. Or maybe two degrees. Even so, there is usually some logical reason for the connection, something to do with the Brown Band or Morris dancing or whatever subworld I have passed through in my journey through this earthly plane.

Then along comes Facebook, which throws up random and inexplicable connections.

I have recently upped my involvement with Facebook, which means that I'm starting to send friend requests to people I know. As part of this process, I looked over my college friend Joel's friends list in search of fellow Brown connections. Joel is the sort who would be up-to-date about this sort of thing. And there, buried among some Brown Band folks I haven't seen or thought about in thirty years, was Michael, the father of Emma, who is one of the young Morris dancers I met the other week. Michael is a contra dance musician and Morris dancer in NYC, where Joel lives; the reason I recognized him immediately is that he is on the friends list of many of my new Morris connections (and I recognized the last name).

But -- but -- Joel has no ties to any folkie world I know of. And you know, it's not as if New York City is a small town. So remind me again -- how many people live in the world? This was a little bit head-spinning for me.

So I wrote Joel. It turns out his mother and Michael's mother were friends back in Joel's Brooklyn childhood, through some PTA and politics connections. Oh, and Michael went to Joel's high school (John Dewey), although I think a little bit after Joel. And then a generation later it transpired that Michael's other daughter went to elementary school with Joel's now-teenaged daughter, and the girls were close friends back then. It's not that Joel and Michael are particularly close, but as Joel put it: "Michael is the only non-family member that I'm still in touch with from the Johnson administration." All of these are reasonable New York City connections, although the reconnection as adults through their daughters' school starts falling into the realm of coincidence.

About ten years ago (I suppose at the re-connection) Joel learned of Michael's involvement with Morris dance and asked if he knew me, but he did not. My connections to east coast Morris were minimal until, oh, just two weeks ago.

As I say, I found this head-spinning. And there's also the viewpoint shift. My unearthed connection to Joel is through somebody from his daughters' cohort. But, um, I know Joel's daughters best as little girls, and the most time I spent with them was when I visited the family at their summer home on Block Island 9 years ago. I know the girls have grown up a bit, but suddenly I have to think of Emma as being the age of these lovely little girls, as opposed to somebody I'm on a Morris team with, whose dancing skill I admire. I don't think I like this.

Oh wait -- this gets weirder. I know Joel's mother; I've known her since Joel and I were in college. So, technically, my Facebook line of connection here is through Emma's grandmother. Head. Spin.

I think Facebook is dangerous.
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