Six Degrees of Separation: How we’re all connected

The idea of six degrees of separation, also known as the six handshakes rule, suggests that anyone on the planet can be linked to anyone else in just six steps. Through this chain of connections, you can be linked to the Queen, Leonardo Dicaprio or even a Somalian sheep herder. 

According to the theory, every person in the world knows around 100 people through being friends, family, acquaintances or co-workers. As each person also knows 100 others, the number of people connected in just the second link of the chain increases to 10,000. By the sixth link of the chain, you could connect 1,000,000,000,000 people (one trillion) people – a number that far exceeds the total population of the planet.  


In the 1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to research how closely connected people can be without realising it. He sent a letter to 160 people in Nebraska with one stockbroker’s name and address, and asked each person to write their name on the letter and send it on to someone who might get that letter one step closer to the stockbroker in Boston.   

Each person added their name then forwarded the letter on until it reached its final destination, showing Milgram that it only took five or six people to link one person to another. This created the concept of six degrees of separation. 


Furthermore, through this experiment Milgram found out that half of the letters that were given to the stockbroker were delivered by the same three people. Although the experiment proved the six degrees of separation theory, it also showed how a small group of individuals are connected to a disproportionately large number of people.  

These people are called connectors: individuals that seem to know everyone and are extremely sociable. They have an ability to connect with a large number of friends but also acquaintances, with different social circles and communities.  

Your Connections, Your Story 

With the technology of social media and the Internet, it’s not only easier to be able to visualise these links but also the ability to stay in contact with your friends and family. 

When writing your autobiography, you can consider your own individual unique group of at least 100 people you know. This theory puts fate into perspective: how amazing it is to link with people through family, friends or acquaintances so that they become part of your life, and of your story. 

The use of images is an important aspect of autobiographies, helping to paint the picture of particular periods of your life as well as aiding with preparation and memory recall. Our previous blog outlines the main starting points when preparing an autobiography, two of which are to identify a clear core concept and to pinpoint significant memories.  

Photographs can help with both aspects, as many of the pictures that have been kept over time are likely to signify important milestone in your life. Generationally, before smartphones, that was the way to share memories and the best way to display your life in highlights. Events like weddings, graduations, family holidays, new births and new homes are all great examples of photographs that are widely displayed and act as visual cues for important memories.  

According to Psychology Today, photographs can strengthen memories and relationships, but in some cases can replace memories, as the image of the photograph dominates over the actual experience.  

We also touched on this in another previous blog, delving into memory itself and how memory works. Just as certain tastes and smells can immediately recall memories from your childhood, for example, and visual cues can do the same.  

Preparing to tell your story 

Gathering as many photographs as possible is a great way to display your story in chronological order and piece together those significant core memories that will be the basis for your autobiography. This process will allow for a deeper understanding of that period of your life and the feelings you experienced, making for an accurate account of what happened.  

Physical documents can also be used to accompany your story. Scanning things like letters, postcards etc. is commonly used in autobiography and something we would definitely recommend. 

Tips on choosing images  

Our storytelling team will ensure that the images you choose help paint the picture of your life while going through the preparation stages of this process. Here are some things to consider when choosing images to accompany your story:  

Does this image match the scope of my book?

Think about how the significance of that highlight in regards to the chronology of your story. You may find ten or more childhood photographs, but if that only comprises a small percentage of what is being written, it’s better to choose one or two.  

Similarly, you may find old concert tickets that have been kept as keepsakes. Choose the concert that had the most significance and include that one.  

Does the image show personality?

Choose images that display people’s personalities and quirks. This adds to the reality of the story and images that can be looked back on fondly. Things like people pulling funny faces, or proudly showcasing their favourite team’s kit, or holding a treasured stuffed toy, are ideal examples of how an image can provide personality to your story.  

Don’t be deterred by a low-quality photo

If the image perfectly portrays a moment, but is damaged or low-quality, don’t be deterred by this. It’s more about what’s in the photo that matters.  

Low-quality scanned images can be improved upon using correction tools on your scanner or photo-editing tools like Photoshop. Severely damaged photographs can also be digitally restored for a small fee.  

We will recommend the best images from your collection, ensuring that your finished book is written to the highest quality and looks the part.  

Don’t forget about historical documents – postcards, letters etc.

Utilising various documents can add context for the readers and immerses them in the world being portrayed by your story, adding visual interest and emotional impact.  

Documents you could consider include:  

  • Letters, postcards, invitations 
  • Tickets from special events or concerts 
  • Travel tickets, documents or passports  
  • Handwritten recipes, ration cards, green stamps 
  • Newspaper clippings 
  • Report cards or childhood drawings 
  • Certificates 
  • Diary entries or other handwriting samples 

All of the above will have a story attached to them, so use your imagination! 

Our storytelling process not only focuses on what happened, but how that had an impact on your life and the significance of it. Our team will be on hand to guide you through the whole process, including choosing images and where to place them within the book.  

Start your storytelling journey by getting in touch today: