the Global Generation Part 3: sociology & net platform

So. I discovered a long time ago I rarely have an original idea. Therefore it behooves me to seek out the original idea and use it (and credit them). In part 3 of the Global Generation I am going to discuss the generation. Specifically two components

  1. The rise of a sociological platform for an attitude and belief system.
  2. The net enabled education platform and how it fits into a specific generational skill set.

In the sociological platform discussion I will combine the excellent San Diego rap/rock band POD and Nietzsche (who I heard was never a particularly good rapper). Yup. C’mon. Someone has to give me points for this combination to make a point. In the net enabled education platform I will actually use a West Point lecture to move the discussion along.

With that. Here are my thought on the sociology and education of the Global Generation.

The sociological & attitudinal platform

Take a minute and watch the P.O.D. video of their song “Change the World”

The one word I would change (at the end) for the Global Generation is Love. Make the word Respect and this is it. The Global generation attitudinally can change the world. And that is about the only thing I would change and this song and video represent the attitudinal platform for the Global generation.

So. Eliminate “Love” at the end. Love will not change the world (sorry). And the Global Generation will not be defined by ‘global love.’ They will be defined by ‘respect.’ Respect for an Individual’ freedom of choice globally. So. I would change the end card(s) to:


Freedom of Choice

free your mindThe basis of my belief of the Respect Freedom of Choice can be found thru Nietzsche. I believe the role of the Global Generation is to fill the world and especially human existence with meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, and essential value (thru respect for individual freedom of choice). This observation stems in part from Nietzsche’s perspectivism, or his notion that ‘knowledge’ is always by someone of some ‘thing.’

In other words knowledge is always bound by perspective and it is never mere fact. As we learn there are interpretations through which we understand the world and give it meaning. In fact he goes even further to state interpreting is something we cannot go without, it is something we need.

My belief in the Global Generation is Nietzsche’s point of view that a way of interpreting the world is through morality (or, more specifically, respect of individual’s choice). And that morality is one of the fundamental ways in which people make sense of the world especially in regard to their own thoughts and actions. Nietzsche distinguishes a morality that is strong or healthy meaning that the person in question is aware that he constructs it himself (theoretically from a low level of morality) where interpretation is created by projecting on to something external. Regardless of its strength, morality presents us with meaning, whether this is created or ‘implanted’, which helps us get through life. Interestingly the internet should enhance this belief system exponentially as individuals are bombarded by moral challenges (and perspective) globally rather than just local interface.

So. Given my belief in the ‘Individual Empowerment/Community Strength’ attitudinal core within the Global Generation it is Nietzsche’s perspectivism which will permit this core to prosper. A basic values foundation fed in an “all you can eat” buffet style by the internet will create a basis for a “Respect for Individual freedom of choice” Global Generation.

It is important to me when discussing a “Global” Generation that the ideas I share truly apply globally rather than ‘America-centric.’ I do believe this sociological platform will slice through all the turnings in existence globally. While it is easy for us to focus on the United States, globally the turnings occur in different time (years) cycles depending on the region. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some similarities but rather we need to recognize some of the regional differences to insure this idea can cross any boundary. My belief I that this sociological platform actually “flattens” some aspects of the turnings and possibly assists in managing the high/low swing of an unraveling or even a crisis. See map below for a representation of the turnings globally:

Source: I apologize to the developer of this extraordinary global map of the turnings but I cannot find the original source. Generational Turning World Map

Ok. Next topic (and I will delve into this deeper in Global Generation 6).

Net enabled Education

As noted in previous writings the internet plays an integral role in my belief in the discovery and alignment of the Global Generation. I believe web based education, and the transferral of information & knowledge, will address generation specific characteristics like what many of us ‘old people’ call “young people’s lack of attention” (or an increasing lack of desire to invest energy on attention to things).

Well, old people, get over it.

The issue is focus, or concentration, not attention. I believe it is easy to get people, and kids, to pay attention (thru carrot or stick methodologies) but if there is no focus on the information being relayed/communicated than nothing (or little) is retained. The internet has honed an increasing ability among younger generations to concentrate and focus on extreme detail in extraordinarily complex environments (and use of imagination on top of all that).

In addition some people argue the internet will create the decline of ‘contemplative thought’ (or taking learning in solitude, creating their own ideas/thinking and applying it to the outside world gaining a more worldly insight through reflection).

I don’t agree.

Those people have never seen a teen playing one of those web based games where they are playing people around the world making decisions quickly and seeing the repercussion immediately (and reacting). Those people haven’t seen teens discussing complex issues on niche sites of interest bouncing ideas off each other and debating their merits (in their own cryptic vocabulary).

We need to stop applying an old belief system on a brand new generation.

The effect of technological change on human concentration and focus has been positive in my eyes. (by technological change I am including any web based interface – websites, blogs, games, wii, etc.)

Using a lecture given to West Point cadets, “Solitude and Leadership” (I think this article is in The American Scholar Spring issue), William Deresiewicz discusses the necessary, and potentially eroding, skill of concentration and its affect on leadership (or becoming an effective leader). Let me say in general I agree with the direction of what he suggests. The challenge I have is he ignores decision making maybe in order to focus on thinking. With regard to today’s world he says this:

Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constant
ly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

Ok. Here is what I believe. He is suggesting that technology/web is cheating kids (or young people) by forcing multi tasking which inevitably discourages thinking and coming up with original ideas. There are a couple things in that thought but let me start with ideas.

Rarely is there such a thing as an original idea. Ideas are more typically created by the crashing together of multiple stimulus (sometimes more is better upfront) of existing factoids and the ability to assimilate and shape the idea from those factoids. Well. Technology multi tasking is just that being conducted at lightning speed (on occasion). I believe the internet I assisting a new generation to be some of the best thinkers and ‘idea creators’ we will ever see. The multi dimensional games kids play at an amazingly young age is helping shape imaginative creative quick decision making and ideation. In addition the games also teach trial & error so that kids can experience a ‘poor decision’ versus an ‘effective decision.’

Okay. Moving on. Another section of the lecture speaks then about the challenges of concentration (and the idea of solitude to avoid distractions):

Basically what the lecture argues is the web does not enable a sense of solitude where, given you ignore the distractions, you can concentrate on the important things. He argues for the necessity of slow, independent thinking, of solitude, of the hard work of thinking things through. He writes:

Concentrating, focusing. You can just as easily consider this lecture to be about concentration as about solitude. Think about what the word means. It means gathering yourself together into a single point rather than letting yourself be dispersed everywhere into a cloud of electronic and social input. It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube– and just so you don’t think this is a generational thing, TV and radio and magazines and even newspapers, too– are all ultimately just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself.

What I believe he misses is that he is ignoring the immediacy interactive aspect of the web. Concentration is not on a time continuum. Length of time does not necessarily translate into better concentration. In fact, the younger generations are becoming more and more accomplished at short concentration abilities. The ability to assimilate an astounding amount of detail and information and sift through it to make the inevitable decision. In addition to that ability I have personally seen that when you challenge that decision they have the ability to quickly resift the information and assess “where they went wrong.” I won’t argue with anyone that this ability comes at the expense of other things (because I am sure it does).

He goes on to further suggest “solitude doesn’t have to mean introspection,” and that there is a valuable “solitude of concentration.” What he is really talking about is ignoring distractions in order to focus/concentrate. Yeah, well, the Global Generation will probably be able to teach the boomers something about this (assuming the Boomers actually can hear or want to learn something new).

We already see signs in the Millennial of what I personally call the “funnel concentration” ability. What I mean is that in an incredibly short period of time a Millennial can assess the situation and ALL distractions and starts eliminating unnecessary distractions and absorbing useful distractions to ultimately close them all out at the point of isolated concentration (‘so, what am I going to do’) and then “do.”

Deresiewicz is arguing concentration skills are eroding because of the internet. He is wrong. (really wrong). Concentration skills are evolving. And in some ways better than they have ever been.


In fact web based technology is funneling a young generation specifically into what he describes is lacking in today’s world (to develop leaders):

No, what makes him a thinker—and a leader—is precisely that he is able to think things through for himself. And because he can, he has the confidence, the courage, to argue for his ideas even when they aren’t popular. Even when they don’t please his superiors. Courage: there is physical courage, which you all possess in abundance, and then there is another kind of courage, moral courage, the courage to stand up for what you believe.

<the problem is> Your own reality– for yourself, not for others. Thinking for yourself means finding yourself, finding your own reality. Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people– you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts. You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice

The web is the furthest thing from endorsing ‘conventional wisdom’ as you can get. Truly the challenge is wading your way through all the divisive fragments in order to come to your own ‘truth.’ Yes. I do worry that the internet today doesn’t have a true ‘fact based non opinion information platform’ but to suggest being bombarded by a stream of other peoples thoughts will slow the development of leadership qualities is wrong. And judging how a future generation will assimilate that knowledge based on our own abilities (older generations) is silly. While I cannot guarantee a larger percentage of leaders within the Global Generation I do believe we will have one of the strongest generations of ‘thinkers’ (or individual decision makers) that we will have seen in quite awhile. And that is because of web based technology not despite it.

In summary I believe the Global Generation because of web based technology will not only be effective thinkers but also have an incredible well rounded values (respect) point of view.

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Written by Bruce