America in 2012: Rising from the Ashes?
2011, America, has been a mighty interesting time in history. For those who have been watching both America and the world, we have undergone a subtle but massive change in how the average citizen of a country asserts his or her thoughts and values into the collective. That voice is technology. And while in my earlier articles I noted that I was clearly concerned that the use of social media was fueling a clear division in American ideologies, since then an interesting turn of events is being born. Let’s review some fundamental bullet points that led to the birth of this change:
- Real time Social Media including Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Smart Phones, etc..
- Wiki-leaks, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.
- The Arab Spring uprisings.
- The hacker group, Anonymous.
- The downfall of Osama Bin Laden and Khadafi
- Billionaire Warren Buffett.
- Bank of America – Debit card fees, Netflix price raise debacle.
- Congress and the President.
- SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and GoDaddy.com
Each of the above events has challenged our root belief system in so many ways. We have clearly have been standing at the proverbial fork in the road. One road leads to continued division in values, morals and just plain on how we think the country should run with the effect of paralyzing systems. The other road? Why, it is the road that re-asserts that in a good democracy, the people can have opposing views but that through intelligent discussion and thought evolves the common ground. A sense that deep down we know the difference between right and wrong. That we can take a quiet moment and question our own beliefs and understanding based on new information and perhaps form a new more intelligent position.
How this translates.
Governments can no longer stem the tide of information spread. Technology is evolving so fast that traditionally closed or controlled societies can no long keep a cap on dissenting opinions. During the downfall of Mubarak in Egypt, he attempted to control the information by shutting down TV and web servers. The people and technology responded by learning how to create peer to peer (or smart phone/computer to smart phone/computer) networks. The word that spread anyways? We want to be free in choice. Irrespective of, but fundamentally changing religion, governments and long held beliefs, countries are now faced with having to evolve quickly to the expectations of the people they serve. Transparency is the toughest medicine of all. America, Europe and Russia are not immune either. A fascinating message that says, “We want good freedom. However we know that we are too many to lead, so we want good leaders to lead us into the future. But be careful, as we watch and talk now, we are no longer ignorant.”
Religion is having to learn the hardway that the people still believe but will not fall victim to extremist views within each religion. Folks, your average muslim is a good person that wants the same chance at purpose and life as any other. And as information and ideas spread, the right and wrong of our experiences are coming to light. Women in Arab countries are deciding and want the ability to decide if they will follow a traditional path or not. Christianity is undertaking a quiet rebirth not into fundamental thought, but rather a new family and community based way of living. Even the Pope and Catholicism is embracing technology and change, albeit slowly but evolution is still evolution. The message is let me choose to believe.
In business, the bottom line is always profit. It is the life blood of a globally connected system and as evidenced in 2008, when questionable moral decisions are applied, large systems can collapse that have a domino effect on us and the world. A very tough lesson for traditionally comfortable societies, we have fundamentally changed how we view business and consumerism. Again our new information transparency is creating a new moral base. An amazingly diverse, online social construct. And it was brought to bear in 2011 when Bank of America, who had long established a major financial revenue off debit card transactions. It was a huge revenue stream and not inline with the worth of the technology provided. Business owners who had to pay for these transactions rightly complained and the H.R. 3156: Consumer Debit Card Protection Act came into force. This effectively made transparent and capped all revenue streams that sat under the hood of a debit card. Bank of America faced with a huge loss of revenue responded with a transparent surcharge on debit card holders. Now we all know what happened (via social media in real time), nothing other than people finally understanding the right from wrong. The charge was Bank of America wanting their revenue stream back and not being able to see that the average account holder did not agree with the value of it. This right/wrong discussion and idea took root and Bank of America suffered a massive defection. Other major bankers seeing the handwriting on the wall publicly scrapped the same idea. And in the end Bank of America relented and eliminated that charge. Business will have to understand that backroom decisions and corporate greed is a thing of that past. Information will come to light and be spread and effect there financial well being.
People have used rapidly spread information to become more intelligent and in doing so applied it to their base value system and in turn spread that information. The results are fascinating. A new social-moral compass is being born in the internet ether and the conventional power bases are having to respond well or face isolation or massive protest. So America, I am heartened that we indeed are arising from the ashes and fire to a new way of thinking and being. That we can adapt, learn, decide and apply. That we can become collectively intelligent, thinking with both mind and heart and share this growth with others. We can understand that in general, the world’s people want the same thing even with differing religions and fundamental belief systems.
2012 could very well be an exciting evolutionary time. A time of American and global maturing. A message that clearly says, “Be a capitalist, be a socialist, be your religion, be your belief, but above all, the defining principle should and will be, to be good to each other, for we now wield the ability to exchange information and ideas.” The ultimate equalizer, information is the vehicle that will allow us to finally enter the “Age of Reason.”
I, for one, walk head on with enthusiasm.