The big disconnect

I went to the Upfront Summit last week.  It was really a fantastic event put on by Upfront Ventures.  Two days of content and conversation.  I got to meet a bunch of new people, see many people I know and get a face to face with many I have talked to but never met face on.

Jared Diamond was one of the speakers.  He spoke about the divide in this country and why.  I keep coming back to what he talked about.  I know the world has shifted dramatically because of technology.  That shift has changed our workforce but it has also changed the way we live.  When we spend a majority of our time looking at a phone where we connect with the world at large through our Twitter feed or text with friends or just get information around work it has changed the way we interact with each other.

I see people sitting around a table having dinner and half the people are on their phones not communicating with the people they are present with.  The ability to follow people and talk with them around the globe has made it so that most of us really follow and talk with only people who agree with our own sensibilities.  In the past we had to go down to the local hub for our day to day needs from groceries to banking to clothing.  We were forced to have conversation and interact with many who might not believe in the same things that we do.  Now that we only connect with others like us it has created a severe divide.  We are seeing this play out in the media, in government, in protests and pretty much everything.

I am not sure what the solution is but in the past our elected officials found a way to agree to disagree and found a way to move forward but the divide, the grab for power and the divisiveness has become so angry and untenable that there is this cacophony that is surely going to either make a path for a new voice of reason or we are all going to find ourselves in a very bad place.

Comments (Archived):

  1. LE

    I am not sure what the solution is but in the past our elected officials found a way to agree to disagreeThis was easier to do in ‘the olden days’ prior to the rise of both the Internet and more importantly social media. Add in 24 hour cable news cycle as well which has accelerated the change. The result is that you have a situation where as I have said previously ‘everyone gets a vote’ and in particular the loudest voices often manage to command a disproportionate amount of attention. That couldn’t have happened in the past without a much greater amount of effort. This is good and bad depending on which side of a particular issue you are on.That said the elected officials are just responding to these pressure which they could more easily manage in the past and be able to ‘agree to disagree’ and do what is best for the country by making deals and compromising. You can’t easily do that when you are under a microscope of people’s reactions. I don’t think we can ever go back there unfortunately it’s all driven by people and their banding together and making their voices heard.Think of it this way. You do what you think is best for your children. But what if everyone out there knew what you were doing and was able to voice their opinions? That would make your job much harder to do.

  2. pointsnfigures

    I think the divide is much much huger than simply technological. It’s philosophical. To paint it with a broad brush stroke it’s centralized power versus trusting individuals to empower themselves. My gut says the movement is to trusting individuals-and one of the reasons tech is so threatening is because of the way it connects and empowers individuals. This was really fascinating to me.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      Thank for sharing! Adding to my playlist now.

  3. Susan Rubinsky

    I started having an event that I call Big Kitchen Table. I invite a bunch of people over to my house every month or so for a pot luck dinner. Each time I host it, I try to create a mix of people from all different backgrounds and political ideologies. I often invite people from different groups on Facebook that I’ve never actually met in person but was impressed by something they posted about online. It’s fun and interesting. Everyone leaves feeling like they met some new friends, even if they have different ideas about problems and solutions. My boyfriend and I are going to start doing this at his farm in upstate NY as well. He lives in a very conservative rural area (he jokingly claims there are more confederate flags per capita up there than there are in the South). We’re planing our first one up there now. It will be some time in March. I think that this is a great way to utilize technology to unite people in real life (or, Actual Reality — AI — as I like to say.)

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Wow, Susan, what a great idea! I will be really interested to hear how this plays out in the Upstate NY setting. Bravo to you and your boyfriend for being willing to do this — because it sounds like a stretch socially.For me, it is actually easier to interact online with people I do not agree with — relationships formed or people I listen to have greatly espanded my world and my perspective. I won’t say this has changed my core beliefs or positions, but has definitely made me more thoughtful and empathetic. Of course I find a few people here and there who are a little more comfortable but I have signed up for a certain amount of discomfort.