Big Brother Google

The ThinkerDid you catch the allusion to  George Orwell’s 1984? Here we are, almost 30 years later, and the novel’s themes sniff at our heels. Someone or something is controlling what we see and hear.

Does it concern you that what you see and what I see are entirely different? Big Brother Google, in its best intention to send you what it thinks you want to see, limits not only the exact content, but also the slant of that content.  In his 2011 TED talk, Eli Pariser starts the conversation. http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html. But where does this discussion end?

I know it is great for you if your stuff pops up all over the web. Good for you.  But as a society, we may suffer.

Break the mold. Start looking at stuff you don’t care about! Stuff you don’t know about. Different stuff. Otherwise, your head will be stuffed with what someone else thinks you want to see. Maybe you don’t want to see yesterday’s “you” anymore. It’s your responsibility to see a wider view, the today you, and the tomorrow you.

We founded this country on freedom of the press, freedom of speech. Don’t cut off your freedoms to avoid being clobbered by your big brother.

Tribes

I love the notion of tribes.  It’s a gut-level ancestral haul back to ancient times. It’s also hot right now.  Seth Godin, marketer extraordinaire, extols tribes as key to effective marketing. We all want to belong, fit in, be a part of.

David Logan, co-author of Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance, breaks tribe culture into five stages as summarized in his 2009 TED talk.

FIVE STAGES OF TRIBES:

  1. Life Sucks
  2. My Life Sucks
  3. I’m Great (and you’re not)
  4. We’re Great
  5. Life is Great

Logan says that tribes are comprised of between 20 and 150 people, but that the goal for managers, leaders, and marketers, among others, is to help people move from the lower stages up to the next higher stage.  In fact, as I see it, moving people to the highest level should be the objective for all of us as humans.

I would love to be a part of a tribe/group in which everyone in it could genuinely say “Life is Great” all day long.  Logan says that only 2% of tribes reach stage five. How could we increase the percentage of “Life is Great” tribes to 3% or 4%? That fifth stage is the world-changing, innovating, creating springboard to a better life.  Start by moving your tribe up by inviting more people into yours. Then move yourself and them up. If you’re at stage five, congrats. Can I join?

Victims of Our Own Unconscious Behaviors

The ThinkerI recently stumbled upon the Chris Jordan 2008 TED talk  wherein Chris made artwork out of our collective unconscious behaviors.  With a smoking skeleton and pills formed into a surprising circular array, he exposed the following and other punishing statistics…not to punish us, but to inform us.

  • 400,000 people died from smoking in 2008.
  • 65,000 teenagers would start smoking in one month in 2008
  • 213,000 Emergency Room visits resulted from prescription drug abuse

How are we doing against these data today?  More importantly, if the unconscious behaviors Chris exposed in artful form come from our individual denials, is there something we can do about it?  Not only do we bear the cost to our national psyche, but also to our healthcare costs, and unnecessary loss of life for our young people.

We’re moving in the wrong direction.

  • 443,000 died from smoking in 2011, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  •  114,000 teenagers started smoking in one month in 2011 (CDC)
  •  1.4 million Emergency Room visits resulted from prescription drug use in 2011 (Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

I am reminded of the novel Lord of the Flies.  I think the book, published in 1954, has been required reading in the California high schools for decades,  and tracks closely to Chris Jordan’s reflection of our collectively destructive detritus.  The Lord of the Flies author, William Golding,  states that his novel’s theme is “an attempt to trace defects of society back to the defects of human nature.  The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system, however apparently logical or respectable.”

Chris’s and our question of ourselves is: How conscious are we as individuals? What can we change today about ourselves that will change society, but more importantly, make us better individuals? Change is hard.   Becoming conscious is the first step.