When I was a student long ago at USC, I wrote a paper analyzing the impact of technology on our community and how technology could one day empower relationships and personal development; ultimately, make our community stronger and healthier.
Unfortunately, since then technology has been mis-used resulting in exactly the opposite. This phenomenon was predicted by Ferdinand Tonnies in his social theory (Gemeinschaft vs Gesellschaft), which I was analyzing in the paper I wrote. In summary:
Gemeinschaft (communal society) - relationships built on simple and direct face-to-face relations resulting in natural and spontaneously arising emotions. Old school rural societies where communities came together.
Gesellschaft (associational society) - society based on economic, political, and self-serving interests that weaken bonds of family, kinship and religion. Modern cosmopolitan societies where human relations are more impersonal and indirect.
I truly believe the pendulum is finally swinging back from Gesellschaft to Gemeinschaft - we long for personal connection, growth and healthy relationships. It's how we use technology that will determine if we are able to accomplish this goal.
This is a big challenge though.
I believe we can do this through social enhancement. A community that comes together in-person and online to connect in a more meaningful manner i.e. discussing their challenges and helping each other overcome them. Sometimes with professional help because I believe therapists, coaches and mentors can unleash our full human potential.
This is my challenge. It's a big one. I hope you'll join me and all of us at OOTify.