Kadushin describes the “small world” phenomena noting that everyone in the world is connected to each other. He explains that there are clusters of people and communities that tend to share something in common, thus making everybody connected to each other by “six degrees of separations” (p.108). Considering this view, one may have a rather optimistic view of the world. After all, if it takes only five or six steps to be connected to someone living on the other side of the planet, this can greatly increase our ability to cooperate with each other and work together to accomplish common goals.
This is a very optimistic view, but I also think that we need to be mindful that our world is more complex, where positive interactions between people require more than just superficial communication in six steps. Even though we can potentially be connected to each other, we still cannot communicate well, due to existing cultural, religious, and political barriers. These barriers, in some cases, are overwhelming. We can all speak the same languages and connect to one another, but it does little to bridge the gaps.
With this in mind, however, we should not view the world as a dark and hopeless place. I think that in the long run, greater interconnectivity between people and the sharing of information may help bridge the gaps, but this would require sincere and honest communication. As great as it may be to live in a “small world” and to be connected to other individuals, the resolution of barriers requires more than just a text message or a phone call.
If the goal is to try and bridge the various gaps in the hopes of improving communication, we should also be mindful that barriers are part and parcel of the “small world” and that if one gap is removed another may appear. This means that as we strive to improve communication, we must recognize that this is an ongoing assignment that does not have a due date.
Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding Social Networks: Theories, concepts, and findings/ Charles Kadushin New York: Oxford University Press, c2012.