You Push and I Pelt

Learning From How The Flowers Felt


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We Can Predict And Design Four Score And Seven Years From Now

What Are Patterns For?

Eighty years ago, nationalism sounded really great. It sounded great to the Americans. It sounded great to the Japanese, and it sounded really great to Germans.

The reality is that our intuition often can be a poor guide for change. Though it is almost certain that small things can produce sudden, big changes, more often than not humans are surprised and confused when sudden change occurs.

They Didn't Expect WWII
Barton Biggs (1932 –2012): one of the world’s first global investment strategists

In his Gettysburg Address, the first thing Abraham Lincoln did to honor the fallen was refer to The Declaration of Independence. He urged Americans to increase their devotion to “the unfinished work” of advancing liberty. Four score years later, the world was embroiled in a war that could have ushered in an era of oppression, fascism and tyranny, the very antithesis of Lincoln’s vision. Now, nearly 80 years after The Gettysburg Address was delivered (see image below for full speech), we are engaged in another pivotal time. It is the era of globalization that shall put humanity to the test. Can we recognize the small changes that are before us now and choose to create a better way?

Gettysburg Address

Tsunami Warning

We are on the precipice of globalization, and it inevitably will tear down the borders that have separated us as a people. The change won’t be easy. If history is any guide, I suspect most people will ignore the small signs that a tsunami is fast approaching. Most will be dragged kicking and screaming into the undertow of the digital age.

Like a deep underwater earthquake, the invention of the Internet and the subsequent rise of social media shifted our foundation at its core. The wave it’s created is closing in on land. The water in which people usually swim has been sucked out.  For the first time ever, those on the shoreline can see the bottom of the sea where they usually swam. Fish helplessly flip-flop around and previously hidden coral structures emerge.  Many scratch their heads at this unnatural looking landscape. Some run towards it for a better look. They have no idea of the unimaginable power heading their way at 500 miles per hour. What they are witnessing is the unveiling of a communal mirror.

My understanding of the human unconscious only scratches the surface. Crowdsourced inventions from a group of amateurs working on the project for the love of it usually are better than what professionals or so-called experts can create.  People with something at stake make better guesses too.  That’s called crowd wisdom. When we come together as a  crowd something powerful and greater than the sum of its parts happens.

The potential for the tsunami has always been there.  As the wall of water heads our way, awareness of the changing landscape grows. Things look different now, but few grasp that the metamorphosis is a radical shift and the landscape will never look the same again. Many will be hurt or will die in the event, for change never comes easy. Social media has just started to democratize business functions, but the C-Level suite is not immune. None of us are.

“In our democracy, 1% of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income … In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1% control 40% … [as a result] the top 1% have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99% live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1% eventually do learn. Too late.”

Joseph Stiglitz, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%, Vanity Fair, May 2011

United We Evolve

With the right combination of desire and action, we have new tools to bring society and the world to the next level. We are capable of much better things than what we’ve created in the past. This is not a political issue. We need only to breathe in the gray and polluted air, swim in trashed filled oceans and rivers, live with no clean water, or fear a looming water crisis, turn away from the extinction of animals and the more than six billion people who inhabit this planet to see the truth.  The Earth has never had to support the existence of so many human beings. A child could tell you that something is amiss.

There may be hope for us after all. The inherent trade-off between profitability and destruction does not have to exist. It does now, but only by our own design. The industrial age is over, but in its place is the power of connection, which waits to be unleashed fully. Comprised of individuals, our collective work has the power to become the true democratizing force for our world. Should we choose to make the world a better place, we now are more able than ever before. Our survival no longer will depend upon having to be separated by and defined as people representing companies, states, countries, languages and ideologies. We no longer have to work as cogs in a machine that produces something we cannot obtain and which is foreign to us because we know of only one stage in its manufacture. Today, we are all able to contribute and become fully aware of the entire creation. This is our age—the age of information and connection—which, I hope, will historically be remembered as the time when we woke up and evolved into humankind.

To Conquer Division of Labor

This thing we term “the crowd” is ringing the industrial age’s final death knell. Its faithful servant, division of labor, a myopic mass of ignorance, rests in the coffin next to it. The assembly line has fizzled out and will be a chapter in a history book. The crowd has the power to fundamentally change current economic and political systems that are based upon scarcity. The rise of social networks and information sharing democratizes power and can hasten the birth of a meritocracy. The elite few need only to leave it alone.

Though individuals comprise the whole, together they form the collective unconscious, an entity unto itself. The collective unconscious now has a tool that lets it listen, speak, judge and translate as one, and that tool is all of the social networks. The rise of connectedness and sharing hastened experiments with crowd-wisdom, crowd-funding, crowd-voting, crowd-sourcing and the discovery, now called counter-intuitive, which causes some substantial uneasiness, shows that an undivided human race (the whole) performs better than a fragmented one. The Internet is our unification tool and catalyst for a new and happier age that awaiting our design.

Buddah

From the dawn of civilization, great thinkers have struggled to create an organizational structure to be the proxy of the collective unconscious. The unrelenting drive for individual power eventually eroded all of these structures no matter how well designed they were. It could be argued that America is the best one to date. What prior societies lacked was an ability to join together. The crowd is not going away, but I wonder how well it will cooperate.

Divide and conquer has been used successfully in war, economics, politics and labor since the dawn of civilization. It is based upon the truth that the whole is less powerful and easier to overcome when it is torn apart. At best, complex challenges become easier when divided into smaller, more understandable units. At worst, division allows an elite sovereign to control populations for personal gain. I would be naive to believe world leaders are unaware that unification via Internet opens the door to the power they currently hoard. History teaches us a free Internet will be threatened by those in power seeking to maintain their individual status.

The worldwide web allows individuals from around the globe to choose their subject of interest and get to work on it. In the future, I imagine human beings from abject poverty, with little or no formal education and who don’t speak the same language being able to do the work they love unhindered. We hear about the widening gap between rich and poor in our country, yet pay little heed to the gap between rich and poor on the Earth. The injustice and outrage that disenfranchised workers from western societies feel now is the same injustice that third-world countries have suffered for years. How many Einstein’s had to till a field, or work in the rice paddies to keep from starving. What happened to the Venezuelan Hawking, Nigerian Newton, Chinese Marie Curie, Bosnian Monet, or Ecuadorian Beethoven?  Now, the Internet gives all people a chance to emerge, be brilliant and advance the human race. Wave patriotism good-bye and say hello to a new way of thinking: If you work hard doing something you love to do, you’re likely very good at it and will be able to survive by sharing your gift with the world. It has value. The tradition of scarcity and the concept of money are disappearing because they’ve been illusions all along.

“The dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crisis…The solution to this is to replace the national currency with a global currency.”  Justin Yifu Lin, Former Chief Economist of the World Bank

So, what is our new currency?

The mindset and setup Americans inherited from the industrial age isn’t relevant and doesn’t work anymore. You know what I’m talking about: the daily grind that’s been instilled in us since birth, or perhaps before that. It goes something like this. We wave good-bye to our youth and grow up. We work for a living because we’ve been taught that if you work hard, you’ll be successful. We drive to and from where our work requires us to be. We endure long hours to prove our commitment to the company through its downsizing, outsourcing and trimming of the fat. We get married, have children and buy a house. Now, we fear being a part of the next round of cuts because it will hurt more than just us. We can’t imagine what the reality of not having a job looks like, so we push the thought out of our mind, smile bravely, dress and act the part and live our lives as-if they will happen to us sometime soon.

Good News – Your Job No Longer Exists!

This Just In - You're Not Working

We have breaking news. Nearly all of those who are employed at companies and factories will lose their jobs, if they haven’t already. The unemployed in mid-career will not be hired for full-time work ever again. They shouldn’t think the reason is because someone pegged them as too old, overqualified, under-qualified, over-educated or not educated enough. The jobs no longer exist. It’s that simple.

This is great news. This is your time to break free, devote yourself to liberty and invent a better future. The past doesn’t predict the future though it should inform it. There’s a brave new world that is waiting for all of us to design and it looks more like Star Trek and less like now. It’s taking over quickly–like Tsunami, 500 m.p.h. quickly.  We shouldn’t stand on the beach scratching our heads. We can make the new currency. Our combined knowledge is the new wealth.

To get in on this deal at the ground level, start by asking yourself a few questions:

  1. What have you done to help someone today?
  2. What have you contributed to make the world a better place?
  3. What do you want your legacy to be?

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”  -Ronald Reagan

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Together we are more powerful than we possibly imagined.


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When Do Megabytes The Dust? An Update to A 2012 Hub Page Post

Grave Markers For The New Millennium

When our virtual persona outlive us what is the right thing to do with them? Should Facebook pages of the deceased become their grave markers? Will Facebook be haunted with virtual ghosts? Or, should our pages RIP with our other belongings?

We caution children about the content they post, explaining it can take on a life of its own. When we issue these warnings do we consider our own mortality? If asked, most of us would say that what we share online is a reflection of us-the lives we live outside of the virtual realm. Though we would be wise always to operate under the belief that nothing sent, published, tagged or posted will ever be a secret again, as humans, we likely do not always follow such a conservative protocol. It is difficult to always keep the fact that potential employers, love interests, neighbors, friends and enemies, will peek at our virtual selves and judge us on what they see. Although we want our online persona to show our best selves (for the most part) it is beyond our ability to consistently maintain awareness that everything we do online becomes a part of the public domain forever.

Now that Baby Boomers and GenXers have entered the second half of their lives, there are more stories about posthumous Facebook pages because we are finding that online personas have a power and life of their own.

Messages From Beyond

On a blustery Saturday in the winter of 2012, I received a message from my Facebook “friend.” I didn’t know she had died seven days earlier. I clicked on the little quote, but instead of a Happy Holidays wish, it was her sister, also a friend of mine and old college roommate, who was writing to me. Her message was a personal obituary for which I wished I had been warned. A flashing red message box might have prepared me. Pancreatic cancer had claimed her sister, and my Facebook friend. Formal services were held earlier that week.

“I thought you should know,” the message read. “I was going through her things, and saw you played Gardens of Time, but not until after the funeral.”

It was true – we played a few Facebook games together. She and I had reacquainted after more than 20 years apart. I gushed about Facebook reuniting people like us. Her house at the end of Main Street in my artsy, eclectic hometown was the center of all action back in the wild 80s of my youth. As a teen, I baby sat her children. I hung out at her pool nearly every summer day day between 1985 and 1988. She was elected as our driver when we saw Pink Floyd’s Momentary Lapse of Reason concert at the Vet in Philly. After graduation, I went to college, and from there started my adult life. I forgot about high school, my hometown and my friends from there for a while.

In 2012, I asked her “Would we have ever met up again without Facebook?” She said no. We shared brief messages like this before trading requests for items in the games we loved to play. “Please send me a present, so I can build my fountain?” I clicked and sent a request to her about four times a week. One or two days later, the gift was delivered to my inbox. This back and forth went on for a year, during which time she never mentioned the chemotherapy, radiation, nausea, sleepless nights, losing her hair, and the suffering she endured.

On June 26 2014, the news of another friend’s untimely demise shook me. I found out through a cryptic post on Facebook.

“Goodbye Marquis!” It read.

“Huh? Couldn’t be.” I thought as I punched out a rushed comment on my phone, hoping to quickly dismiss my suspicions.

“Sounds weird.” I wrote. “Did the Marquis finally go native to that giant Congo in the sky? Message me privately.” I referred to things only friends and readers of his would know. He had visited Africa and written a book about it, entitled “Going Native.” My high school friend’s message back was quick. It confirmed my worst fears.

“He died. Sad to say he hanged himself. I guess he always was the master of his own destiny, so in a crazy way, it makes sense. Hope you’re well.”

I wasn’t well though. I felt sick. He was only 55 and I hadn’t spoken to him or seen him in years. We weren’t even friends on Facebook, yet I felt as if I had lost someone really close. I felt guilty about not being there for him, strangely enough. He was one of those staples that towns like ours come to rely upon. He defined what was cool about us. He was well educated, irreverent by accident mostly, I think, and a living dichotomy. He was a writer, a junk man, a mower of lawns, a connoisseur of French cooking and wine and a country man who loved antiques, but who had lost everything he loved in this horrible economy.

“Damn. That’s really bad news.” I messaged back.

“Shitty eh? Sorry to have to tell you the hows of it all.”

The messages ended.

When Should Megabytes The Dust?

In 2012, I called a friend for advice.

“What are your thoughts about death and Facebook?” I asked him.

He told me about one of his friends who had died a year ago. “On his birthday and anniversary, this whole social circle pays homage on a Facebook page. They post that they miss him, and they share memories…maybe leave virtual flowers,” he described.

What do you do?” I asked.

“It’s all too strange for me. I don’t go,” he answered. “Too macabre!”

I contemplated Facebook pages as virtual shadows. I turned to my friends the poets for guidance. Has the digital age silenced death’s finality? Will social media give us more comfort as we grieve?

In Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote:

Out, out, brief candle!
 Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
 That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
 And then is heard no more. It is a tale
 Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
 Signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

Robert Frost’s last line in”Out Out,” which is inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth, reads:

"And they, since they were not the one’s dead, turned to their affairs."

Will it be our friends and kin or the courts who will turn to our affairs once we are dead.  Who will decide for how long our sound, fury and megabytes shall live on Facebook?