Sunday, July 25, 2010

Let's Kevin Bacon This Blog, Man

Now that “friend” is a verb, I thought Lunch Box Mom should roll out another contribution to the grammatically incorrect sign-of-the-Facebook-times lingo. “Kevin Bacon”. As in “Let’s Kevin Bacon this blog, man.”

It seems like good timing. David Brooks has already likened Mel Gibson to Narcissus himself, and although a friend recently sent me an article published in a psychology journal entitled, “How to Spot a Narcissist from their Facebook Profile”, I think, at least for the current news cycle, I am not in contention.

For those of you unfamiliar with the party game connecting any actor to Kevin Bacon, or John Guare’s 1990 play, Six Degrees of Separation, or the many applications modeled after the theme, this is the general premise: everyone can be connected--within six people.

Stockard Channing’s character in the Guare play describes it this way:

I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation. Between us and everybody else on this planet. The president of the United States, a gondolier in Venice. ...... It's not just big names. It's anyone. A native in a rain forest. A Tierra del Fuegan. An Eskimo. I am bound to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people...

For the purposes of blogging jargon, however, we might move away from great playwrights and the Hungarian authors on whom their work is based, and focus, more appropriately, on college students.

It was three of these who, back in 1994, created the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game at Albright college. They had been watching Footloose, followed by The Air Up There, and well, you know the rest.

I got the idea to Kevin Bacon this blog earlier this week. How crazy is it that my dad’s former researcher now works with a friend of mine from college who is married to someone I went to high school with? Or that a new Lunch Box Mom reader, who came to the blog because of the suggestion of a local friend, was childhood friends out in Ohio with someone I knew in college outside of Chicago?

I’d have known none of this incidental information if Facebook hadn’t told me that so-and-so and I have "X" friends in common. Amazing. Some might say absolutely pointless, but I say amazing.

As I see it, if there are 500 million Facebook users, then all I need are 83 million close friends to connect to six friends each. Or, conversely, if six readers connect to six of their friends, and this equation grows exponentially, then by the time I am 83, we’ll have 500 million readers.

I don’t really need 500 million readers or fans, of course, but at the last Lunch Box Mom staff retreat we did set some goals:

Gilbert the dog: lose 5 pounds

Ava (age 2): get out of diapers

Heidi (age 5): stay up until 9pm

Husband Tom/Head of IT: Get back to work

Sarah/Lunch Box Mom: Increase readership and hire a real staff

The dog is on a green bean diet. Ava is thinking of potty training. Heidi has a digital clock. My husband is “on a conference call”. And, I am inventing a verb to kick off the new Lunch Box Mom membership drive.

I’ve chosen the infinitive form of the word: to Kevin Bacon. I suppose the present-participle would work well, too, as in: Kevin Baconning. To me, that sounds like something in a Paula Deen recipe, but it is listed in the Urban Dictionary, and the meaning is similar.

Kevin Baconning: When you attend a social event as the distant acquaintance (through multiple degrees and links) of the host or guest of honor. John is at the party because he is best friends with Gary, who is dating Sasha, who is Michelle's older sister, who is working for Jerome, who is throwing the party.

Like membership drives on NPR, the Lunch Box Mom drive will also be slightly annoying to folks who have already given. And, if you’re reading this post, you have already given: your time, your support, your comments and your friendship.

What more do I want?

Well, thanks for asking.

I’d really love a cup of hot tea and some biscotti, but in terms of the blog, I’d like to extend the reach. Friends of friends. Friends of friends of friends. Friends of friends of friends of friends. You get the idea.

I am not sure how any of you have found the seven minutes a week it takes to read the weekly posts, but I am grateful that you do.

If you know 6 to 83 million people you think might like the blog, too, now is a great time to tell them about it. The easiest way is to suggest they “like” the page on Facebook. If they are not on Facebook (and many people who don’t like seeing 2-4 hours of their day instantly vanish are not) they can subscribe by adding their email to the Google Feedburner box on the right side of the blog itself. That will send the weekly posts to their email, at which point they can read or delete them just like someone who’s been reading or deleting the blog on a regular basis.

I promise this membership drive will end promptly on Saturday, July 31, and we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled programming. Until then, our status updates might state our progress, or lack thereof.

My local NPR station usually brings out their heavy hitters near the end of the drive—a movie critic with evangelical passion; Terry “Fresh Air” Gross; producers with French accents. I am not sure how I will rally in the final hours, but we have another staff retreat scheduled to talk about it.

In the meantime: if you are at the beach, doing a NY Times crossword puzzle, learning how to use your new iphone, volunteering at an animal shelter, reading about the flooding in Iowa, you might wonder how you  have time to Kevin Bacon this blog. I’m not even promising a free umbrella or a subscription to Newsweek as an incentive.

If only I knew an astronaut who had a brother who had a dog walker who took dancing lessons from a teacher who taught Kevin Bacon when he was at the Pennsylvania Governors school in 1974. Maybe then, I could ask him for his autograph, which I could send to a friend, who might then.....send it to you.

To spread the word on Facebook, click here, and look on the upper left side of the page—you see a button called Suggest to Friends.

The Google Feedburner requires a bit more effort. A person has to enter their email address, and then confirm when an email is sent asking  if they're ready for that kind of commitment. The box is on the right of this blog page.

And, look near the bottom of this post: a new, fancy button to email or share this post. It might even work.

Artist's rendering of Six Degrees of Separation

Kevin Bacon at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Highline, NYC

Author, Joan Garvin  


Tim Morrissey said...

I shall endeavor to do my part to Kevin Bacon this awesome blog!

Susan said...

I'll link to your blog from mine. I use "statcounter" to track blog hits so I'll know who clicks out from mine to yours...Do you use a tracker?

Chris Burger said...

You were Facebook-linked from my friend Kari Forwood. You are one hell of a writer. I wish I could make words sound pretty like that. You even knew how to use the word "whom". That alones sets you apart from my writing.

Very clever.