Friday, September 21

A Glocal Community

There are approximately six billion people currently on this here Earth of ours. That's quite a lot, right? Well you know, I'm not so sure any more.

I mean yes, I don't think any of us can imagine more than a thousand people or so in terms of personal reach or influence (although going by Facebook, some of us do have more friends than others). I guess what I'm not sure of is the size of the world. Just how big is it?

A simple example of this is how some individuals have a relatively large and visible influence. We're talking about the Bushes, Cruises and Gates here. They can literally make decisions that will affect people living in the farthest corners of the globe. This is a relatively new ability for a mere mortal to have.

But this kind of influence isn't limited to just world leaders and big box office movie stars. They say that there is a maximum of seven degrees of separation between any two people in the world. If true, one of the implications of this is that if you transmit an idea to everyone that you know, and then they do the same and so on, it will only take seven iterations for the idea to go global. I don't know about you, but that's quite intimidatingly little.

Okay so it doesn't quite work like this - ideas have a kind of "half life" where they become less effective as they become transmitted. But good ideas do travel; even Islam recognises this behaviour when it talks about being rewarded for teaching a teacher (the original chain combo bonus, perhaps).

Also today, technology helps keep ideas intact during transmission; viral emails are big business now, and things like Facebook's News Feed facility has a lot to answer for when it comes to the almost too rapid dissemination of information.

And Social Sciences evolve by the day too. Groups (of general individuals rather than those based on arbitrary classifications) can now be modelled and so become predictable; this in turn means that they can be educated and taught (or, from another perspective, manipulated and groomed) very easily. They can also be attracted or repulsed to some stimuli in the most efficient way possible. And the scary thing is that it's not at all as difficult to do as it sounds.

Anyway, the point is that all individuals have the potential to make some kind of a far reaching difference in this world, good or bad. Now this last bit isn't intended to sound like the vacuous inspiration message that it almost certainly is: heck if anyone needs to get off their lazy bum and be a positive influence, it's me.

But I like the idea that just one person, no matter who they are, can make a difference in this world by taking advantage of this butterfly effect of thoughts and ideas. It doesn't even have to be overt or intentional; just by leaving a positive example for people to follow you might end up being at the start of something big.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous16:58

    Afternoon, flicked through posts, cant really be doing with reading them... have to go and read Zahera's blog. Just thought i'd drop a note telling you i had a dream about you, this is the second dream now, first was sometime back, im sure Sanny told you about it. Any road, this dream was awesome, i loved every minute of it until i woke up and realised it was you who i dreamt of, BUT... its ok, i'll live with it.

    Zahera can fill you in with details if youre ever bored and need entertaining. ;-P