Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Corporate Anarchy?

In the last few posts I've been developing an idea that has been rattling around my brain for some time now. It can be summed up in the following questions: Is the social media revolution we're experiencing right now a result of new technology, or is it the other way around? In other words, is the quiet revolution sweeping through our society in response to new technology -- or, this new way of communicating something that we have called into existence? Could it be that the rise of Twitter and Facebook and Friendfeed are a reflection of people's desire to break down the old barriers and speak directly to one another? Are we seeing the end of the "expert" era, in which all knowledge and understanding is filtered to us through a select few?

It seems to me that this is a generational thing. My parents generation, the children of the 1960s, started some kind of revolution. It was in many ways a flawed attempt. As the writer Ken Wilbur has pointed out, for all its good intentions, the boomer generation was immensely narcissistic. It had (and still has) a tendency to blow its accomplishments up out of proportion. And it was very much still stuck in an "us/them" paradigm. In fact, the whole idea of a generation gap is based on that! However, there's no denying that our parents generation -- with their anti-war protests, long hair, and rebellion -- shook up the old order for good and all.

Then came my generation - Generation X. We were a bit lost for a time. They called us slackers, because we tended to be introspective. We couldn't exactly rebel, because our parents had already done that, so we kind of came up with our own way. When I was in college, I took to calling myself an anarchist. This was partly to annoy my parents and professors. But it was also my way of showing my dissatisfaction with the dual options that were being served up as my only choices -- Democratic v. Republican, Left vs. Right, Women vs. Men, etc.

Now, there's a new generation--I believe they're calling it Generation Y. They seem to evolved a whole new stance. It's as if they have taken the best of the boomer generation and my generation, and melded them into something entirely new.

They're not rebelling. They're talking. And, lo and behold, no one is left out. It may have started on the campus of Harvard University, but now Facebook is open to all. Even Walmart has a page (though many of the wall comments aren't terribly kind).

The new generation seems to intuitively understand something that for all its free love, the hippies never completely got. That is, we are a human family -- all of us connected to one another. When we try to deny it, we experience the opposite. Alienation. Loneliness. Anger. All of the things that seem to ail our society today.

The great marketing guru Seth Godin (who I generally like and agree with) showed himself to be stuck in the old paradigm with a recent post, "You Matter." In it, he lists all of the situations that show that you matter. They were all very heartfelt. For example:

"When you love the work you do and the people you do it with, you matter ... When kids grow up wanting to be you, you matter."

The list goes on. However, the new paradigm is as follows: "Everyone matters. Period." You could be having the crappiest day ever, and feeling no love whatsoever for your fellow man. You could be a protestor on the streets Tehran. You could be a tech startup struggling to get noticed. Or, you could be Apple.

No one is left out of this. Everyone matters.

(To be continued...)

4 comments:

marcfarley said...

Sunshine, the lines of separation are erased as knowledge is unlocked. Its why its so important to get access to knowledge tools to everybody. If the 'have-nots' of this world do not have the ability to participate in the knowledge vortex, they will suffer for it.

The problem with any kind of 'free love' or 'grand equality' philosphy is that there will always be competition between humans - competition for resources and affections (including respect et. al). This competition is evidenced by the desire for tweeters to grow their followers and bloggers to increase their subscribers. Egos need feeding apparently and egos are hard to avoid.

Which gets to the question of who matters. Do you have to be contributing to matter? If you are only receiving, do you matter? Do you have to be doing both to matter? Is there a metric for matter-ness? Why does mattering matter so much? Why do historical figures that wage war seem to matter so much more than those who have managed against great odds to prevent it?

I'm looking forward to seeing where your thoughts on this go. You have good instincts about social media - thanks for sharing them.

the storage anarchist said...

Oddly enough, Apple is about as anti-publicity (and thus anti-social media) as they come:

Apple’s Obsession With Secrecy Grows Stronger

Dr William J McKibbin said...

Sunshine, an insightful post, and I say that as someone who was a part of the 1960's -- again, nicely said!

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