21st Century thinking: Connecting is Hard to Do!

Over the last several days, I have been thinking a lot about connections. You might wonder why, and if so, here we go!

We know that generating new knowledge has an important social dimension. So how do we get better at squeezing better thinking out of our social interactions? This boils down to taking a close look at what being social means. In other words, how do we connect?

When you start thinking about it, it becomes clear that we take this for granted. We just do it. So, for example, we don’t think much about how the idea has changed.It was not too long ago that the prime connection in life was to God, as revealed through the Church. Other connections, even love and family were secondary. Remember Abraham getting ready to sacrifice his son?

In thew 19th century, we started to change our priorities God was still just fine, but some folks realized that they could observe the world around them more closely and using reason they could make incredible discoveries. We started to connect via reason. That is what “enlightened” us. “I think therefore I am”, right? And the myth of rational man was born. Our belief in our rationality led us to construct huge social institutions around it. Like markets, based on the idea of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”. Like democracy, where men of reason could govern themselves.

Well, this was fun, but it was not enough. Some folks felt that they were more than just reasoning machines. They did not want to be subject to an impersonal process. They wanted to express their individuality. They wanted to be free to create. And we start thinking about connection via romanticism.

We are still living within this belief structure. We connect based on “authentic” expressions of self-interest. And it is odd because it is inwardly motivated and outwardly broadcasting. How does connection work when everyone is expressing themselves? All talk and no listen?

Something to think about.


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