TED Conversations

John Mardlin

Organic Vegetable Producer/Marketer, Saanich Organics

TEDCRED 500+

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Will social media reverse or amplify the trend towards individualism?

The industrial revolution and then the rise of the middle class brought on a wave of indivualism: increased mobility and decreased family ties. Increasing technology, the piano, the printing press, the turntables, the blog, have further bolstered the ability to express our individualism. This has led to more art, more expression, more creative ventures and increased capitalism. Global transportation has given us the ability to leave our small towns and our families, in search of greener pastures.

On the other hand, Social Media helps us to empathize with and understand other people, and sometimes put their needs ahead of ours more readily. We can seek greener pastures, but remain connected to our families and our tribes and expand those groups.

There are numerous signs of increasing mutualism and altruism online. Things that are more often recognized within a tribe of friends or a family setting. Will individualism continue to be bolstered by technology, while still increasing mutualism? Can they coexist, do they reinforce one another?

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Closing Statement from John Mardlin

I really appreciate your comments Ken! Perhaps I can distill it down somewhat; when a certain form of ones individuality, that is the open-minded, knowledge and experience seeking self grows to a certain point, then the mutualistic self is freed from the herd mentality and becomes truer and stronger.

Thank you for your contribution.

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    Feb 17 2011: I just answered a very similar question, so I'll begin with the same start:

    Gebser, Feuerstein, and more recently Wilber have deciphered what they refer to as structures of consciousness. The rough outline divides human consciousness into 10 fulcrums. Of these, the first three are pre-personal, the second three person, and the following three transpersonal. The 10th fulcrum is outside of the structure of the other 9.

    Wilber refers to a 6th fulcrum phenomena known as "aperspectival madness." This involves the realization that all perspectives are relative; madness results from a failure to differentiate between perspectives (to acknowledge that some perspectives are relatively better than others).

    Within this framework it can be understood that the pre-personal tribal-mythic structure of consciousness, all part of the pre-personal, has much in common with the transpersonal. Outward signs of mutualism appear on both ends of the spectrum. However, it is rooted in a different consciousness. Where mutualism doesn't show well is in the personal realms, especially the 5th and 6th fulcrums. There is a natural process of disidentification with the tribe/clan as part of knowing thyself. Then, when one knows themself- not their identified ego self, but a self rooted in experience- then what you may be referring to as "mutualism" reappears with a greater depth of love and acceptance than its pre-personal form.

    Running out of space, and shifting topics, so I'll continue in a separate comment.

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