Physically, the planet's no smaller than it was a millenium ago. It just feels that way. A couple of hundred years ago, if I wanted to get in touch with a friend in Australia, my letter would take months and months to get to her by ship. If the ship happened to sink around the Cape of Good Hope, well, let's hope I wasn't sending a love letter and waiting for an answer.
Tonight, all I need to do is open up Instant Messenger, Skype, or the chat window on Facebook and the direct line of communication is open. Now anyone can keep in touch three dozen ways to Sunday by clicking a few buttons.
In this sense, the world hasn't just gotten smaller. It's downright cozy.
In recent weeks, I've had some fun Internet connection experiences. On Facebook, I've "Liked" the page of author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I commented on one of her status updates. A few hours later I received a message from a woman whose name I didn't recognize. She'd seen my comments and my name reminded her of someone she knew long ago. By any chance was I the same Mary Stella that went to Camp XXX in upstate New York in 1969?
Paint me gobsmacked. Yes, by chance, I am that same Mary Stella. The woman who wrote was one of my roomates. She had the left bunk. I was the center one. A third girl named Andie was on the right. I think we were roommates for one month. One month 42 years ago and she remembered my name when she saw it on a Facebook page. As soon as she said it, I remembered that she was a Cubs fan and had curly hair. That recollection isn't a tenth as impressive as picking a name off a page.
Not even a week after this, I was walking up to my office at work when one of my co-workers stopped me. He joined our organization six or so months ago after living in Chicago. "Mary, this is going to sound strange," he said, "But how do you know Dustin R.?" The out-of-left-field question threw me for a short moment, but I remembered that anything's possible in this day and information age.
"He's married to Allison who is the daughter of one of my older brother's best friends and college buddies. I've known her since she was a baby," I replied. "How do you know him?"
Turns out my co-worker's brother worked and became friends with Allison and, therefore, Dustin, out in California.
Let's subtract a few numbers from that six degrees of separation, shall we?
Internet connection coincidences must come in threes. For several years I've been a fan and daily reader of the blog by the talented, hilarious Ken Levine. In addition to being an Emmy award-winning writer/producer/director, Ken is also an MLB announcer. He also spent a lot of years as a deejay on Top 40 radio stations. In his recent blogpost, Ken wrote about some of his radio experiences. Back when I was in college, I worked every summer for a radio station in my home area of Atlantic City. I posted a short comment about the station and my experience.
Tonight I logged on email and opened a letter from a guy who worked at that same radio station in 1978 - when I was there for my last summer. So many years ago, but I remembered him. Turns out, he and Ken are close friends and have similar backgrounds in radio and sports announcing. Mike McCann is not only a diehard baseball fan, he's also an accomplished photographer. Click here to see some of his photos on his blog.
Maybe it's wrong to call all of these things coincidences. Given the instant connections made possible by the Internet, I don't think we should expect anything less.
What's the best connection you've experienced thanks to the world wide web?
My favorite weekend - *Yes, I'm dipping into the archives but it's one of my favorite all-time posts, so what the hell? I've picked up a few new readers since it ran six years...