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Six Degrees of Sexeration: How the Biggest Facebook Group Ever Never Was
Can one Facebook group make a sexual map of the world?
By Nick Rahaim
We live in an era of ostentatious hookups — our grandparents would be ashamed at the transparency of our romantic lives. Facebook users, young and old alike, post pictures, comments, and links that make it all-too-clear who’s knockin’ boots with whom. Whether you’re sexually active in a small town or a big city, it doesn’t take too much scrolling through a feed to realize that your friends list is a bit more, ahem, "connected" than you'd assume. The Hungarian writer Karinthy seems to have been onto something with his six-degrees-of-separation hypothesis, but I'd go one step further: at times it seems everyone is connected by a chain of sexual partners numbering around six.
One night, after no fewer than six beers, I and six sexually connected friends of mine came up with an idea: a Facebook group that would connect everyone in the world through their sexual partners. Gradually, we settled on the name Six Degrees of Sexeration, to show just how small — and in turn, large — our sexual circles are.
Admittedly, the numbers are a stretch — for all seven billion of us to be sexually connected in a mere six links, everyone on earth would need to have an average of 43.74 sexual partners. That’s the kind of number most women would never admit to and most men would gladly lie about attaining. As it stands, the average number of sexual partners for adults in the United States is around six to eight for men and four for women.
Our idea was to create a group limited to the Facebook friends we'd slept with, then watch as they added friends they’d slept with. The possibilities of growth were exponential.
But right from the start, the idea was trickier in practice. The first question was who would start the thing. One of my friends was afraid her conservative Old World family might disown her with such a public display of promiscuity and my other friend said that as a respectable chemist, he wouldn’t want his name listed as a creator. So it was left to me, unemployed-journalist-turned-commercial-fisherman, to create the group with my account.
Sitting in front of the chemist’s wide-screen TV with a Bluetooth keyboard, a mouse, and bottles of beer in hand, we created the group. We felt that, to make this work, we had to go all the way, so we forced each other to invite every one of our friends we’ve slept with, regardless of the natural awkwardness it would cause: “Hi, we haven’t spoken in years, but join this group to let the world know you’ve had sex with one us!” We did not, however, go as far as becoming Facebook friends with past lovers solely to invite them to the group.
Going through my list, I quickly realized there were many more of my Facebook friends I’d like to have sex with than ones with whom I actually had. A few weeks prior, I'd purged my friend list of people I didn't really care to stay in touch with, including a handful of would-be invitees. And I'd deleted my ex-girlfriend a while back out of spite, when I'd seen her status change from "Single" to "In A Relationship" — sigh. So in the end, I didn’t have all that many people to invite. Regardless, the two others followed suit, and we waited for our brainchild to grow and grow.