A Culture of Connections

Everywhere we turn these days people are talking about “connecting” and “making connections.” It’s no wonder then that as the connection race accelerates, we’re now looking for ways to organize and connect our connections!

When Common Craft put the dry erase marker to the whiteboard (now what seems like eons ago) and showed us why we should pay attention to the magic of social networking and how it really worked, they exposed the connections epidemic at its core. We were able to see- our personal and professional social networks linked up right before our eyes so that we can leverage them to meet more people and accomplish more things. As Twitter would have us believe, we can really get to know each other – even our lifelong friends – a little better.

Platforms, websites and common spaces are built on the sound idea of creating environments where we can socialize, share information and acquire new knowledge, allowing us to all do what we do in a better, more meaningful way. We are expanding what we know and improving a result.

Of course, we’ve only been discovering, dabbling in and building on what other, more collective cultures have known and practiced for centuries: we are all in this together. The more we are aware of one another – our needs, interests, goals, resources – the more we share self-interest and are invested in each other’s well-being.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa a decade ago, I was both surprised and delighted by this sense of collective identity. Immersion into a culture that relied on and thrived on such interdependence was both intimidating and empowering. Ultimately, I was fueled by it. This independent American introvert slowly but surely relied on a such interconnectedness from moment to moment – making relationships key and becoming a link to necessary and valuable resources for my community.

And that was only the beginning. The same lessons and skills continue to serve me, later as a VISTA member, and in every role I’ve had ever since – first and foremost “human being.” It seems fitting that in the present moment, the same approaches are being carried across boundaries of all kinds to make a positive impact on our world.

Social networking has fundamentally changed each of us. It enables us to “see” our own networks in a way that we as a population of rugged individuals never gave pause to before.

It’s no coincidence that the Web 2.0 world that makes us the media and us the information that we share has also spawned more civic engagement. National and international service applications are through the roof, volunteerism is at an all time high and socially conscious initiatives and do-gooding campaigns are now more the exception that the rule.

For many, we are thrilled that we are coming full circle to where we should have always been.

The truth, like Common Craft and countless others have always known – our connections not only make us happier, they make us more powerful – continues to take hold. What we also witness is that like the woman who relies on the neighborhood to watch her son while she’s at work, being interconnected – especially at the hyper level we are today – makes us more responsible.

A culture of workaholics, we will no doubt find ways to divide up the seconds of our connecting. We’ll be more engaged with our mobile devices than in exchanging words with the one by our side. Let’s do ourselves a favor and steady the swinging pendulum a bit and remember that the reason our connections are so powerful is that each of us has built them one person at a time.

Posted by: Michelle Bond, Project Manager