On September 16, 2017, Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters converged at the National Mall in Washington, DC. As they stood face-to-face, a profound moment unfolded that would transcend the era’s political and social dynamics. In my latest episode of the Power and Presence channel, I recount this remarkable event, and highlight its vital implications for human futures in the digital age. Most importantly, it suggests that we should not wait until our Big Tech overlords give us permission before we choose to develop a more conscious relationship with technology, and begin the transform our virtual landscapes.
It’s this historical and civilizational impasse that led me to write my latest book, Power and Presence, and I am delighted to announce that it is now available on Kindle and in hard copy format on Amazon. The book’s subtitle hints at my preferred approach to the sensemaking crisis: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Digitized World. I believe that it is in developing a more conscious relationship with ourselves (including the body and mind), the world and technology itself that we can establish a genuine foundation for moving forward. Simply regulating everything and punishing people isn’t going to work, at least not by itself. We have to look deeper than that, right into the soul of humanity, and ask ourselves, “What does it mean to be human in the digital age?” So, as much as anything, this is a meaning crisis, one that long precedes the digital age, and which has been developing for centuries.
So, here we are at the beginning of what I call the A.I. Explosion. We are at a moment in history where change is happening at a rate that may never have previously occurred. I can’t say that definitively, because it is difficult to fully quantify the extent and impact of what’s occurring. But I…
Digital Wisdom as I define it comprises three parts. The first is“know thyself;” the second “know the humans;” and the third is “know the machines.” Individuals, organisations and societies can work at developing these three domains to cultivate Digital Wisdom personally and collectively
The date was September 16, 2017. The era: Trump’s America. That was the day that a group of Trump supporters assembled for “the Mother of All Rallies Patriot Unification Gathering” at the National Mall in Washington, DC. As was typical of the times, they were met by counterprotesters from Black Lives Matter, numbering 82 in total, who proceeded to shout at them. The Trump supporters shouted back. One individual onstage told the Trump supporters to ignore the hecklers, crying “They don’t exist!” Some might see something symbolic of the historical era in that statement.
It is the human predisposition towards drama and projection that underpins much of our suffering – our need for drama. I define drama as the “irresponsible emotional manipulation of others with the aim of establishing a personal agenda.” Drama is rewarding to the ego because it grants an opportunity to get what one wants in situations where the ego feels that it either has no real power, or when it does not want to pay the price for embodying genuine strength. That cost may vary, but always involves taking personal responsibility.
The good faith inventory I include below is a simple way of assessing the degree to which a person, group or movement is acting in good faith or bad faith. By their fruits, ye shall know them. You can use this simple inventory in deciding whether to allow yourself to be emotionally or mentally taken into the cognitive wake of a particular person, debate, social/political movement, media channel or organisation. You ask yourself these questions. The answers are subjective, of course. Just answer them in good faith, so to speak. Each question has two options. Circle the left-hand column number if it is a positive, the right-hand number if it is the negative. Circle the question mark if you are undecided or neither applies. Then add up the total score.
We are not alone, but deeply connected with each other, an effect of nature that transcends our virtual connections on the net. Our future online systems – and societies in general – should attempt to help us retain this nature effect, and especially the experience of wonder and awe. If they do not, we may lose something priceless: our Authentic Selves.
Research indicates that when we employ our peripheral vision, our sense of presence, awe and wonder increases. We relax, gain a deeper perspective of our place in time and space and our capacity for spatial memory improves. We become more positive about the future and the jigsaw of life begins to piece itself together. Thus, as our gaze habitually collapses outward while peripherally constricting, we lose touch with the human spirit.
South African author and lion tracker Boyd Varty learned early the deep knowing which life seeks to instil within each of us: that there is something profound which transcends and connects our discrete human minds.[ii]
Varty’s tale of the terrifying involves a single night, set in time a moment or two following the initial post-apartheid elections in South Africa, when chaos and violence were common bedfellows across the troubled nation.
A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch, but on its own wings.” Denzel Washington. It is not possible to create perfect systems. We can simply aim for better. And given that our systems and institutions will inevitably fail us sometimes, it…