Online Spring

September 27, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Society, Web

Until now politics has been separated from our personal lives.  On the day we vote, there is an intersection that feels empowering to many people.  For most, that intersection has been enough.  Many people do not vote.  Many that do vote do not feel empowered or part of the process.  Activists engage in a process to achieve social and political change.  Many activists feel they are not empowered.

In this country, for many, there has been a deep disconnect between the management of government, the economy and society on one hand and an individual experience that he or she can influence those institutions.  The media make a clear and lasting contribution to an experience that the individual cannot make a difference.  It does so in several ways.  The media make few attempts to present root causes of situations, which would provide an opportunity for observers to hypothesize solutions.  The media emphasize the priorities of advertisers and their mission to sell products over the need of an educated electorate that can make informed decisions.  The media and politicians flatter the status quo rather than suggest that with knowledge and understanding, informed individuals can have the leverage to create change.

Observing that the resources and environmental crises demand deep and sudden change, and assuming that we are prepared to meet that challenge–albeit waiting until the last moment to fully engage–I look around the world for signs of that engagement.  The world is demanding radical change.  The ways that we have to adjust to make that change possible suggest what we have to become and the pathways of transformation.

In other words, if we are going to survive and transcend, certain things have to happen.  Where do we see evidence that the process is underway?

It takes little imagination to estimate how green spring will be when April rains begin.  When a sick child starts eating, we feel relieved because we know that health is on the way.

Observing the effects of online social networking and the resources that are engaged when a person participates in that process, I estimate the repercussions as being deep, vast, fast and long.  All the right elements are in place.

It is the young that embrace it.  It is from the young that change begins.

It is cheap, making it relatively free of class and ethnic barriers.

It is easy.

It is fun.

In the last two years, social networking has revealed its depth as a device for social and political change as activists have used the tool to create actions and drive people to specific events.  In the last year, social networking has been used by the Obama campaign to raise funds and drive supporters to specific events.  Facebook and My Space have built huge constituencies that communicate through their infrastructures.  Google has developed and is seeking to encourage a universal social networking programming paradigm that allows for a seamless experience across the varying environments.

What is on the way is a single, massive, social networking environment that is noncommercial, supported by the users and programmed by volunteers.  This result is as inevitable as spring.

It will be transparent.  We will be able to observe the emergence and distribution of new ideas, creations, gossip, rumors and news as they cascade through societies across the planet.  We will become familiar with the lightning-fast communication of unique information and the power that comes with many people demanding a very specific change from individuals and institutions that can make that change.

For the world to change, individuals have to feel personally empowered.  We can imagine the world we want if we believe we have the power to make it happen.  The experience of personal empowerment is being provided users of social networking, an experience that is bridging over to a belief that the world can change.


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