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Existing Peripherally

May 16, 2007

How long is it before everyone is a familiar face? I realized today that there are a number of people who I have begun “knowing” without ever meeting them. Though this has happened before, i.e. with pen pals, this is the first time that it happens where only one party is privy to this knowledge.

In a way it is like when you are being told by a friend about one of their friends. On facebook, I’ll browse photos of a friend and start to see recurring people in their photos. Do I learn a lot about these people? No, I’m not so much of a stalker to start looking them up. However these photos reveal things about them, at least in the social group they are repeatedly seen in. You see the friendliness and happiness, or you see the people who are always on opposite sides of the pictures, the envious glances at the others girlfriend.

You start to know these people in a weird way. What is fascinating for me is that I have often thought of people and then asked myself whether they think of me as often or at all. What is bizarre is that these people I know only from photos have no reason to know I exist. We exist peripherally, our social networks touch but the only reason I know of their existence is due to them being one, two, or sometimes three people removed from me.

It is said there are one only has 5 degrees of separation from everyone else on the planet. It seems like we are now at a point where anyone who is connected to a myspace or facebook community can start to look past the degrees of separation and see these people they may never meet. In some ways it is scary, in others it is fascinating beyond words.

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