We can sit on our porch condemning technology and ‘this new thing’, blaming it for the ills of society and calling it the very enemy of the community. We can reminisce about the golden old days before TV (Oh! And the luxury of voting for females) and how modern appliances have hindered, smothered and rubbed out the table top parley that is family dinner time. You can join those who possess a growing concern about the rise of the singular person over the larger community model we have lived with until this minute. And it is true that being plugged in to “the system” 24 hours a day can most definitely contribute to this mode of living. We see teenagers — and any age group – viewing others lives on social media, witnessing their happy show reel of sunrises, sunsets, bikini holidays and ‘Frozen themed, 7 tiered, frosted marble cake proud mummy’ moments. The end effect of feeling even more detached from the larger community.
However, I can see this very technology, this 24/7 data driven, social media junky lifestyle actually encouraging and growing the community-centric mojo (that’s a real technical term). For instance, there are now apps that can be the first step in helping people with depression and anxiety. Helping with panic attacks, depressed thoughts and as a gateway to getting one-on-one help. There are chat apps/sites to vent problems and help people with depression and issues, becoming more connected to the community hive. Fixing the disconnection can be a great step forward.
Democracy (Democrazy 2.0) can be aided by more data and citizen interaction. More open discussion with panels of experts. More accurate and expedient polling on issues. More trolling of politicians — it’s a win-win situation. A greater sense of contribution to the system can grow voting turnouts and foster a more community centric lifestyle and help create more active players in the democratic system instead of becoming passive followers.
Crowd sourcing has opened the doorway to such a diversity of ideas, products and even petitions to action change. It has funded many projects that has been great news to our communities.
Technology can bring together smaller sub-groups of a community, who never have known that other like-minded people ever existed. Finding and connecting with like-minded peers can doubtlessly be a positive. Imagine finding you are not the only person to hate gratuitous Auto-tune fixed vocals in pop music! You’re not alone! How liberating.
We can now mobilize on issues and fix outmoded laws and thought processes, bring about groundswell and momentum to causes and all because of the internet and its hyper-connectedness. It’s not all about patiently typing moronic grunts on Youtube comments. It’s a Q&A with Stephen Hawkins on Reddit about ‘Artificial Intelligence’ where anyone can ask a question. It’s finding solutions to problems from remotely spread teams. It’s hearing how others are living, understanding other cultures and world events that are unfolding in real-time.
In times of natural (and unnatural) disaster even Facebook goes from the banal comments on the daily commute to a community helping super tool. Lost love ones? Need a power generator? Need to vent about the chemical toilets you are forced to endure/empty? There’s a site for that too.
These are the positive steps for our smaller communities and we shouldn’t stop there? With technology we can now see ourselves as a global-community and not simply small tribes of flags, skin colours, religions, sports teams and Apple/Android users. Hippy connotations aside, these funny phones, tablets and the interwebs can be one small step for man, one giant step for mankind.