In 1929, before Rob Ford, Diet Coke and jeggings, the Hungarian poet Frigyes Karinthy set forth a theory that every person is connected via six people.

While this was a fine and dandy idea during the Roaring Twenties, it was actually a pretty accurate picture before social networks connected the dots and Instagram became the hub of misunderstood teens, social appearances and artsy-fartsy photo albums.

Suddenly, the world physically downsized into a big interconnected pile of friends of friends (FOFs) that tagged, poked and liked each other online.  Shortly after the famous FOFs frenzy of 2010, “Frangers” (Friend-Strangers) became a thing: strangers who follow each other, but haven’t actually met yet.

To be clear, Frangers are the secondhand FOF’s with similar passtimes: fashionably layered outfits, adorable dogs, selfies, funny captions and food porn. They haven’t actually met in person yet, but that doesn’t matter.  Who wouldn’t want to be friends with a FOF named Yolanda? She has bleach-blonde corn rows, a French Bulldog named “Felix” and a boyishly-cute husband who’s insanely photogenic (even in scary dark, unfiltered lighting). The Internet wants us to be best friends.

That’s when introductions became a little (more) awkward.  Unwritten Franger social cues became a no-name white bag of mystery candies. We drew a blank; forgot how to interact with one another at bars, on the streetcar and west side parties. This became crystal clear when Frangers began to see each other at parties, when suddenly everyone in Toronto became tied together by two degrees of separation. It got really weird. How are you really supposed to introduce yourself to someone you’ve followed online but never met – in a cool, non-chalant way that’s not stalkerish?

Then, it crept into long-standing friendship circles: FOF’s shared photos of other FOF’s hanging out, and everything started feeling like friend incest. To make things even more complex between the FOFs, Frangers and the Friendcest (Friend-incest) epidemic, people became too cool to introduce themselves in person. And now, everyone  is too cool to appropriately behave around Frangers, so instead, they pretend like they don’t know them; even though they do.

If Frigyes Karinthy was a) not dead and b) living in Toronto, he would piss himself in shock. Because even back in the 1920’s, six degrees of separation was close enough – and now in 2015, two degrees is a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare.

Reflecting back to the city before FOF’s and Frangers intertwined in awkward union, it’s sort of weird to think that it was once liberating to be a total nobody living in Toronto; but now it’s different – and we’re in a period of growing pain where we all know way too much about each other. The sidewalks are filled with double-take eye contact, half-smiles and unsure questions: do I know that person? Have we met before? Does that guy with the nose piercing know Nina? Didn’t she sleep with Nikita on Halloween? Is that Jessie’s ex from high school? Was that the jerk who brunched with Brodie last Tuesday? Wait, I think I know what that lady ate for breakfast this morning – waffles from Starving Artist right?

We’re all a bunch of harmless, really bored stalkers living in the city. We can’t help but indulge in the creepy online habits our Grade 8 teachers prematurely prepared us for when MSN was the holy grail of socializing and every girl had a Hotmail account with the word “superstar” or “cat” in it.  We know everyone else’s business and we’re too cool and close for comfort.

Sarah Brown is a confidently confused twenty-something living in Chinatown; she loves mom jeans and hates networking.