A couple years ago my daughter and I visited caves with ancient paintings in South Central France. It was stunning. When our guide flashed a light at a looming, three dimensional, 14,000-year-old painting of a horse, it hit me that humans haven’t actually advanced very much in the last few thousand years. Maybe even in the last few hundreds of thousands of years.
A lot of other things have changed. There are a lot more of us. We can communicate with each other all over the world, instantly. We can dig up stuff from under the ground and spread it around on a scale that most of us can hardly comprehend. So, even though we haven’t physically evolved very much, we live in a time of explosive, human-driven change — a cascade, a water slide of new knowledge and conflict. How is an ordinary person to cope? Maybe do better than cope? Maybe even flourish and give back?
Part of me wants to hunker down, go squirrel-like and bury my nuts, circle the wagons, heck maybe even learn to shoot guns. My brain refuses to comprehend words like market capitalization and collateralized debt obligation, and I’m perfectly happy with an 8 year old cell phone that makes calls and nothing else, thank you very much.
Another part, however, is dying to jump in and be a part of it all. Remember the poem attributed to Hopi elders, so much quoted it’s almost a cliche?
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift, that there are those
who will be afraid. They will try to
hold on to the shore, they are being
torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
keep our heads above the water. …
The time of the lone wolf is over. …
When a friend sent this poem several years ago, the line the time of the lone wolf is over, resonated. It still does.
If the time of the lone wolf is over, how do we join the pack?
This is going to sound hokey but I dredged that poem out of my “nice things” file after coming across a book by Kristen Lamb, “We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” (see also http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/).
We join up via the Internet?
But, the lizard brain in my head argued, you already use the Internet. You don’t need social media. Social media is for kids, narcissistic celebrities and people who don’t have enough to do. Ah, this little voice is a manifestation of my almost Jekyll and Hyde attitude: thinking of myself as allergic to “social media”, while enthusiastically participating in e-mail debates, maintaining a Facebook page, and blogging, albeit in an isolated, lone wolf kind of way.
Long story short, signed up for an online class taught by Kristen and slogged through a pitifully thin layer of new social media developments (well, new to me): Air Adobe, Tweets, Tweetdeck, Google Chrome, Yahoo loops, read other peoples’ blogs and started to come around to this: social media isn’t necessarily about self-promotion and being rudely glued to little machines that interrupt conversation. It’s also offers shortcuts to Big Ideas, about how to get around in the brave new world, and maybe, if we’re lucky, how to do our bit. Or am I fooling myself?
I don’t think so …
Links to more inspiring web pages and blogs: