Watch sizzle per request.
A few years ago, I came across the 6-degrees of separation theory, which proposes that each person on the planet is only six introductions away from any other person on the planet. Recently, a team of scientists at the University of Milan proved that technological innovations and social media have reduced the
degrees of separation to 4. I was fascinated by this, so I decided to venture out and prove it myself. Within 30 days, I set out travel from Los Angeles to New York, using only connections within four degrees of separation. In 26 days, I did just this.
It all started at my house in Westlake Village, California. I publicized the project on Facebook and the announcement reached over 300 shares within a few hours. It reached way beyond my own network. People from all over the United States with different religious and political backgrounds were immediately engaged.
My friend Oliver Shahery accompanied me as the projects documentarian and filmmaker. Most travel excursions are planned, but ours was not. All that we brought were three t-shirts, two pairs of pants, a few socks and underway, and a toothbrush each.
We started in Southern California and within two days, we were walking through White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Zach Beasley was our first driver. He is what I consider to be a first degree because we were previously friends before this trip. In fact, Zach drove us from San Diego all the way to Austin, TX.
Most travel stories explore the mental and physical barriers when accomplishing something like climbing a mountain. Well, this wasn’t too different. In fact, I had to rely on others for my own success. I had to engage with people online, but what truly mattered was whether those people responded. I guess we were reinventing the way people travelled. We were reinventing what it means to hitchhike.
A few rides and a few dirty couches later, we found ourselves in Nashville, TN. The music scene is remarkable there. We spent a few nights at a few different venues, listening to various genres of music. We went to a local record shop in downtown Nashville, where three bands were playing. It wasn’t the music that was so unique, it was the fashion. It was clear that people were heavily influenced by the 70’s as well as southern culture. Imagine taking John Lennon and sticking a big belt buckle on his waist and some long cowboy boots on his feet.
Eventually, we made it to Washington, D.C. on July 4th. No one should underestimate seeing fireworks in our country's capital. For most of my life, I would watch one firework show, but in D.C., I was surrounded by several. Thousands of people gather at the national mall but we spent the night on a rooftop, where we were able to watch the fireworks from above. It was really special to be able to travel across America and then celebrate it’s birthday in our capital.
A few days after, we hit Philadelphia. We weren’t driving in the brush and dirt like we were in the south anymore. Over time, the drive became more green and colorful. On day 26, we arrived in New York city. At first, this project’s mission was simply to get from LA to Manhattan by using social media. What I didn’t know was that this project became so much more. People were not only engaged, but they resonated with the idea. They took part in our conversation.