The Power of Accelerating Electronic Connectedness
As anyone who has read my book The Shift Age or has heard me deliver a presentation of the same name knows, Accelerating Electronic Connectedness is one of the three fundamental forces of the Shift Age. Since 2007, I have consistently stated that this force will not only create a global connectivity that will empower developing countries by lessening ignorance and challenging institutional authority, it will also create an extension of McLuhan’s electric global village.
In a recent column titled “Shift Age Forecasts,” I discussed the déjà vu type of reality I live as many of my forecasts come true. I stated that I would review some of the ones listed in that column to provide deeper examination of why they have become reality. In that column, I stated:
“-Accelerating Electronic Connectedness, one of the three fundamental forces of the Shift Age, would manifest itself in part with great political upheavals as connected individuals blow down the walled gardens of ignorance and political tyranny.
“Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya as the beginning. The nervousness in Iran, Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia and China is palpable.”
This was a forecast I first made in 2008 when questioned about what effect this accelerating connectedness would have on dictators and Islamic nations.
When people connect via the Internet on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, they in effect become their own mini media companies. Twentieth-century power structures obtained power in a time when actual media companies – and only media companies – created media content. Now, every company, every group and every individual is a media company. What is a dictator to do? A dictator can shut down institutional distribution systems but not electronically empowered individuals who connect from everywhere.
The other phenomenon I speak about extensively involves the two generations I call the Millennials and the Digital Natives. The Millennials are the twenty-somethings who have come of age in this new millennium, and the Digital Natives are teenage and younger. The Millennials are the first generation to fully utilize social media, and the Digital Natives are the first generation born into the digital landscape.
Well, what are the two consistent factors in every single revolutionary effort in the Middle East today? First, each has occurred in a country in which 45-55% of the population is under the age of 25, and second, each uprising has been fueled by intelligent and focused use of social media.
More than any other force at play today, these two factors explain the incredible uprisings occurring across the Middle East. It is not about Islam; it is about disenfranchised, unemployed youth, who realize that through social media, they have the collective ability to educate, organize and influence national and global economics and policies. They also know that those who repress them do not comprehend this force. Do you think Mubarak went to his Facebook page every day or sent out tweets? No, he told his cronies to shut the media companies down, which they did, but the growing connectedness of the planet and the new environment it creates was not something they had even a remote understanding of when they pushed back on the inevitable wave of history they faced.
I believe this accelerating electronic connectedness of human society has already altered us in ways that are radically different from the electric global village of McLuhan. I also believe it will continue to be a force that will eliminate ignorance and challenge almost any authority that is based upon a 20th-century organizational structure.
Connectivity is the new environment of our lives, fostering new forms of nodal networks that are busy replacing those structures not busy being reshaped.
Facebook is the first utility of the 21st century. It is replacing the utilities of the last century that were created by the parents and grandparents of those under the age of 30. A transition of historical significance is occurring. Much of what I forecast is tied to the fact that we are living in, shaping and experiencing an inflection point of history. What a time to be alive!