3.74 Degrees of Separation – Social Media and the Algorithm of the Human Heart

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  • By Lisa Cypers Kamen.

    I’m no Kevin Bacon, but I just found a batch of research that says the degrees of separation between me and the rest of the world are decreasing. And it’s no surprise that social media has a lot to do with it.

    The Algorithm of the Human Heart

    What’s the Algorithm of the Human Heart?

    Take Facebook, for instance: Mark Zuckerberg and co. say that I’m only 3.74 degrees away from any other user on the social network. That’s less than 4 connections separating me from President Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian, or even you. Small world, huh?

    And the numbers get even more mind-blowing the more you think about them: If you have 100 Facebook friends, you have 10,000 friends of friends. At five degrees of separation, that means 10 billion hypothetical people are connected to you somehow. 10 billion! More than the world’s population! All these fun, hypothetical numbers beg the question: where does all this virtual connectedness get us?

    A lot of people talk about how social media has stunted our human interaction skills. And judging by the number of people I see sitting together in disengaged silence, each surfing away on their own smartphone, that’s clearly the case. I can’t believe how infrequently I get a phone call or — gasp! — an in-person visit from people I’m friends with on Facebook. Social media has replaced old-fashioned face-to-face conversation.

    But as with every other complex issue in this crazy world of ours, social media has a silver lining. For every story I hear about Facebook isolating us, I hear another one about this amazing tool bringing together lost family members, long-lost loves or other kindred spirits. I’ve personally found a lost love through Facebook, and I know that I never would have gotten back into contact with this light in my life without social media.

    And then there’s the “networking” aspect to social networks. Facebook has given us an easy, central way to gather behind causes we believe in. The Haiti Earthquake relief efforts, Hurricane Sandy aid campaign and Occupy Wall Street movement would have happened without social media, but would they have generated such a huge amount of support, monetary or otherwise? Those teensie-weensie 3.74 degrees of separation have helped us spawn revolutions and raise millions within minutes. And they’ve also helped us connect with meaningful people who we simply can’t get up and visit in-person.

    It’s a small world, after all. And sometimes, social media is a great way to keep us dreaming big.

    Lisa Cypers Kamen

    Lisa Cypers Kamen is a filmmaker, positive psychology coach, author, host of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio, professor and lecturer specializing in the field of sustainable happiness. She is widely recognized as an expert on the subject. Lisa’s acclaimed documentary film co-produced with her now fifteen year-old daughter, Kayla, “H-Factor…Where is your heart?” explores how people in varied circumstances find, generate and share happiness. In addition to her film on happiness, Lisa has also published a number of articles and books entitled, Got Happiness Now?, Are We Happy Yet?, Leadership: Helping Others to Succeed and Reintegration Strategies, about combat trauma and using positive psychology principles to create wellness in a post-war new normal. Lisa’s written work is featured on blogs for the Huffington Post, PositivelyPositive.com and InspireMeToday.com and she is a TEDx community event speaker. In addition, she is the Happiness Expert for the Florida Department of Citrus/ Florida Orange Juice in its Take on the Day campaign. Harvesting Happiness for Heroes™ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that delivers stigma-free integrated combat trauma recovery services to warriors and their loved ones. Modalities include scientifically proven strengths based Positive Psychology coaching and interdisciplinary tools such as film, yoga, meditation, art and creative writing designed to mindfully empower the client to achieve increased self-mastery, self-esteem and reclaim her/his life. HH4Heroes focuses on the balance of mind, body and emotion resulting in greater overall wellbeing and the transformation of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). HH4Heroes offers retreat workshops, one-on-one coaching, Battle Buddy programs, as well as our new R.E.B.O.O.T Online virtual community coaching classrooms designed to reach underserved areas. In addition, HH4Heroes deploys Return to Duty™ civilian and corporate training to help welcome a warrior home and into the community and workplace. Lisa is committed to teaching Happiness is an inside job™ and helping others end their needless suffering through intentionally cultivating greater joy.

    For more information, please visit HH4Heroes.orgHarvestingHappiness.com, and HarvestingHappinessTalkRadio.com.

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