TED Conversations

John Mardlin

Organic Vegetable Producer/Marketer, Saanich Organics


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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?


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: Social media, like any other technology, can be an opportunity or a distraction, depending upon how we use it. In Humanistic Psychology we talk about the habitual center of gravity in society. Those with lower consciousness are pulled up to this center. Those with higher are pulled down. So, the special education kids are given all the support in the world to be as normal as possible. And, the geniuses are given every whack possible to be knocked down into "normalcy." (think of the effect of the economic system in controlling people's behavior)

    A factor in play with social media is the heightened, and chosen, pull towards normalcy. I hear the reactions and knock-down attempts from my "old" conventional friends (old classmates and family for example). They hear my words, take them personally and as challenges, and write some nasty comments back. Then I have my "new" friends, my adult friends- those with higher consciousness, greater intelligence, and more open hearts. These new friends send positive reaffirmations. They "like" quotes of wisdom. They appreciate heart-felt communication. These social media relationships encourage me to blossom.

    In the world of my "old" friends individualism, there is a horrible pettiness. In the world of my "new" friends mutualism, there is a beautiful loving support. Yet, as we learn from studying the structures of consciousness, those who show the heart-felt mutualism are actually more individual than the those who follow the mainstream herd. Only an individual can truly love. Because only individuals can know and love themselves, and be totally confident with their true nature- which transcends the personality and identification.

    Does your Social Media expand your sense of self, make you more loving and gentle, and bring more simplicity and groundedness into your life? Or, does it bring animosity and competitiveness, making you feel judged, as if you need to conform in order to be liked?

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