I’ve been thinking a lot about the rise of the individual and the ability for one person to make a difference. Yes, many people have made this claim in the past, but perhaps now more than ever it is really true.
Disruptive technologies like mobile and social media have made it easier for people no matter who you are or where you live the ability to contribute your ideas to larger communities, to have a voice, and a platform for that voice to be heard. These technologies are also changing how we think about ourselves and our place in our respective societies. We have become empowered with a voice in ways we never have been before. No matter what your topic or your idea, you can discover other like minded people who are interested in what you have to say. You are not constrained by physical or national boundaries, culture, and also language is becoming less of a barrier to communicating with others.
With our abilities to connect with others and become a creditable voice, we have to think about the responsibilities that come along with that power. How do our ideas influence others? Are there any ramifications for what we say or do? Does this infringe on others rights? I think perhaps some of the biggest questions we will be asking ourselves as we adopt more and more of these technologies are:
- Where do my rights as an individual start and end? What expectations of privacy can/should I have?
- What does freedom of speech cover? Is it a human right and should it be protected as such for all global citizens?
- What ethics should we be considering in this new age? Is there a universal code for all global citizens?
None of these questions are easy to answer. We will wrestle with them both as individuals and as societies. But they are things we should all consider. We should think about what our new roles have become without our societies. What is it we are trying to achieve and why? How can we contribute to the greater good. It seems a bit of an oxymoron to say the individual is becoming more empowered and also say we need to think beyond ourselves and think of others. Contrary to popular belief it isn’t all about you or me. It is about all of us. We are all interconnected and united in ways we can’t even begin to understand. But most of all what connects all of us is the fact we are human and citizens of a larger global community. The Dalai Lama states this idea much better than I could ever hope to.
…But to me, whether it is an old friend or new friend, there’s not much difference anyway, because I always believe we are the same; we are all human beings. Of course, there may be differences in cultural background or way of life, there may be differences in our faith, or we may be of a different color, but we are human beings, consisting of the human body and the human mind.
During this holiday season, I ask you to think about how are you using your individual voice to provide a better world for all of us. How will you inspire others? What impact will you make? What idea of yours will go viral? How will you leverage the power of one?