about conflict (and enlightened) & global generation


Every once in awhile I don’t need to think about what to write because someone writes something that makes my point (and I get to use that and write).

The Economist. 9/4/2010. E-communication and society.

An entire article about how internet is proving (sociologically) to be a divisive tool rather than an ‘expansive community enabling’ tool.

In fact. I will begin at the end … using what was said in the article to make my point (hopefully using a credible source to make my own points and idea more credible).

All this argues for a cautious response to claims that e-communications abate conflict by bringing mutually suspicious people together. Facebook has a site called “Peace on Facebook,” where it describes how it can “decrease world conflict” by letting people from different backgrounds connect. (The optimism is catching; this spring a founder of Twitter described his service as “a triumph of humanity”.)


A reminder on my own frame of reference.

I do believe the internet can assist in ‘decreasing world conflict’ (hence the reason I built a website called enlightened conflict with a global frame of reference).

Yes. I do believe the idea (the global generation children’s education initiative) I am proposing would be more effective than what Facebook and Twitter (and several other organizations) are attempting to do.

I have written several things about what role my particular idea of a global generation education plan plays within a Human Rights construct (which is invariably tied to ‘decreasing world conflict’).

Two quick thoughts upfront:

  1. My global generation education plan for young kids will have an indirect relationship with Human Rights. It is not a Human Rights initiative per se. it is a foundational education plan of action focusing on elementary aspects of education and values focused education to fight ignorance of choices cultures make with the ultimate end ‘vision’ being a decreased world conflict scenario.
  2. I do not believe in any way that the intent is to create global “peace.” It is not one of my objectives is to ‘stop war.’ I am not opposed to that result I just don’t believe it can, or will, happen. Conflict on many levels is inherent to human behavior. In addition, lower level conflict (competition, debate, etc.) creates what I call “positive friction” typically leading to ideation, innovation and informed decision making. Unfortunately (this is human behavior) if you encourage that lower level conflict there will always be someone who will abuse the learning and instigate levels of higher level conflict (and prey on ignorance to do so).


The Economist.

A generation of digital activists had hoped that the web would connect groups separated in the real world. The internet was supposed to transcend colour, social identity and national borders. But research suggests that the internet is not so radical. People are online what they are offline: divided, and slow to build bridges.

Facebook’s architecture makes it easy for groups to remain closed. For example, it suggests new friends using an algorithm that looks at existing ones. But simpler, more open networks also permit self-segregation. On Twitter, members can choose to “follow” anyone they like, and can form groups by embedding words and shortened phrases known as “hashtags” in their messages.

With ideology, the pair’s findings were a bit more hopeful; liberals and conservatives at least communicate—by trading taunts.

But the internet is not magic; it is a tool. Anyone who wants to use it to bring nations closer together has to show initiative, and be ready to travel physically as well as virtually.


Good stuff.

Thanks Economist.

Without saying it you have suggested that everyone is going about it wrong (and with impossible expectations).

Yes. The internet can affect conflict (by diminishing it).

No. It will not have an immediate effect.

Yes. The Internet is a tool.

No. It is not being used correctly yet.

Yes. Internet can affect behavior and beliefs.

No. It will not make a huge impact (against diminished conflict) in this generation.

Bottom line?

Changing existing behavior and beliefs is one of the most difficult things in the world to do (and this is stimulus – response stuff … what people believe leads to what people do, i.e., people’s values/respect attitudinal structure impacts their actual ‘conflict’ behavior).


Facebook and Twitter, although with relatively good intent, are constructing their ideas from the wrong frame of reference. Yup. They are going about it incorrectly.


They are in a competitive emerging industry and their real intent is not to limit global conflict but rather “win” in the business game of social media. And to make sure they win as the industry shifts from emerging to maturing (or at least adolescence) type industry.


Because of the first point outlined they are looking short term.

And they may also possibly be assuming they are tapping into a dormant global desire for less conflict. I suspect they are wrong. The internet (as the article points out), in its toddler stage, is divisive and simply a place where individuals can see who can shout the loudest with their point of view. Or if it you want an older analogy (if you want to argue that the social media web world is older than a toddler and maybe a teen) that users are going thru the initial mating dance uncertainty of meeting new people in different countries and different cultures with uncertainty and some fumbling and certainly falling back on their own insecurities and certainties of what they know (or believe). All that analogy stuff said … their programs are constructed short term by simply trying to gather a community of like minded people when they aren’t really doing anything to actually grow the group of likeminded people.


It constantly surprises me why people if ignore what could be earned from the “green” initiative.

It takes generations (or at minimum a generation) to create a belief/attitude change.

Here is how it works (in a non-professorial sociological expert descriptive way).

You have the “crazy” initial advocates (who don’t look so crazy now) who are learning from trial and error. They are learning what words and facts divide or gather. They learn the hard way that it wasn’t just the idea but how it was communicated and understood (and it was more relevant to some who had similar values and beliefs). You need those people.

Those crazies shifted into a new generation (the young who had listened and learned and began constructing a belief structure) who began building the tools and “things” needed to give green some momentum. This is a larger group than early adopters but not an entire generation. That group inevitably increased (like a megaphone) the beliefs of the initial group. They also begin to start assuming more leadership roles (and are certainly significant enablers to ‘change’ for the next generation of those who ‘believe and want to change things’).

Environment and “green”?

We now have a generation arising (Millennials) primed with beliefs and attitude and tools to enable change during their lifetime. Everything in the green initiative had to be primed and built for someone to actually ‘do.’

Global conflict is the same.

And it drives me nuts when people don’t look at historical learning to build effective plans against objectives.


I am not suggesting Twitter and Facebook and even the 2048 group and Save the Children should stop doing what they are doing. Somebody just needs to get a grip on expectations.

If we truly want to use the internet to impact global conflict in any significant way we shouldn’t dump existing efforts (because they play the role of trial and error and gain some influencer advocates).

BUT. We should also build a robust global children’s initiative.

THAT is the way to build attitudinal and behavior change.

(sorry. I just started two sentences in caps to make a point but at least I didn’t use exclamation points)

Yes. I also agree with The Economist that there has to be on-the-ground in combination with internet if you want any web based initiative to be effective.

(but that is actually kind of basic and I am not sure any credible web based strategist or deliverer would ever suggest something that didn’t have multi levels of interaction involvement).

I would also like to note that I have built that on-the-ground component into the global generation initiative (it is ‘roving enlightenment missionary educators’ and I have even costed it out for budgeting purposes).


All that said … The Economist makes excellent points and I imagine the real question/issue is does someone truly (and I mean truly) want to “decrease world conflict.”

Because if someone does then what twitter and Facebook is doing isn’t going to work.

Someone needs t look at the issue smartly and maybe differently 9throwing out some existing taboo construct things).


I don’t care if someone does the Global Generation Initiative I have developed (although it meets every criteria the economist outlines).

What I do care about is that people get their head out of their asses on how to affect generational behavior.

Someone who truly wants to address this needs to have the vision to understand what “behavioral attitude” really looks like (which is a quasi-paradigm shift) which ultimately leads to the desired response, i.e., “decreased world conflict.”


And lastly.

Mainly because we are talking about what may seem like a seemingly unreachable objective … this task of “decreased world conflict” I want to end with some thoughts from my unequivocal leader in enlightened conflict thinking and quotes:

(insert image of TJ quote)

Thomas Jefferson:

–          If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

So. The point here is that while ‘decreased world conflict’ seems so … well … big … good ole TJ is suggesting that ‘if a world wants to be ignorant and have less conflict’ it cannot happen. We have to passionately and feverishly attack ignorance if we want to diminish conflict.

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.

So. The point here is pretty obvious.  The way to change behavior (tyranny or oppression) is through attitudinal & belief construct. You can do that through education and thinking and increasing knowledge but it helps to tie in a good dose of mutual respect and vision for ‘freedom of choice’ (not democracy but rather understanding of personal choice).

–          Every generation needs a new revolution.

Not Millennials (sorry. it’s just not their time … attitudinally nor tool enabled).

The Global Generation. THIS is the generation to have the revolution of enlightened conflict. Decreased world conflict as The Economist called it.

Not peace.

Built on a foundation of respect and critical thinking understanding.

And, remember, revolutions are not always about fighting & killing (see industrial revolution as proof).


Thanks Economist.

You gave me an excuse to talk about the Global generation and enlightened conflict and a children’s education initiative.

Ah. But “decreased world conflict.”

Everyone should want to write and talk about that.

Written by Bruce