|Diets Gender Issues Anxiety Men in Therapy CE Comments Narcissistic Clients Challenging Cases Attachment Mary Jo Barrett Great Attachment Debate Alan Sroufe William Doherty Mindfulness Etienne Wenger Ethics Future of Psychotherapy Linda Bacon Symposium 2012 Clinical Excellence Community of Excellence Couples Therapy Mind/Body Clinical Mastery Brain Science Trauma Attachment Theory Wendy Behary Couples David Schnarch The Future of Psychotherapy|
|The Relationship Revolution - Page 2|
Welcome to the Relationship Revolution—a radical shift in the way we view ourselves and our social ties. The Internet creates "ambient intimacy," which London-based tech designer Leisa Reichelt defines as "being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn't usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible." As a result, we're awash in relationships. There's always someone we can turn to for advice, information, solace, validation, a good laugh, a thought-provoking suggestion—and there's always someone listening.
"I can put out a nugget of thought on Facebook and Twitter, and a few hours later, a thousand people are talking about it and creating a community around that idea," says visionary Jean Houston, author of The Possible Human and founder of the "social artistry" movement. Mentored by the likes of Margaret Mead, who predicted that "a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens will change the world," Houston sees social media as a powerful tool for change. "I find it to be fascinating. It makes me think deeper."
The problem is, many of us feel as Lynn does—slightly out of synch—even as we commit increasing stretches of our time to the Internet. We watch as our businesses and professions change because of it. We wonder what new kinds of enterprises will spring from it—and what effect it will have on our hearts and minds. In the face of such cyclonic change, it's tempting, and perhaps comforting, to close our eyes and cover our ears, to dismiss it all as fad or meaningless clutter and distraction, or to portray blogging and other "public displays of connection" as narcissistic me-fests. We hear often enough that we're seduced and addicted, that we risk disappearing into our screens, that it's frying our brains. Critics liken the Internet to a big focus group in the sky, where our preferences and tastes are out there, ripe for the picking. When you post, "I had a great yoga class" on Facebook, it's no accident that an ad for yoga clothing soon appears on your page. Websites, apps, and digital devices are the new agents of commerce. As Helen, my contrarian friend in Tucson, puts it, "Steve Jobs invents something. Then we suddenly need it."
The Internet may well be a 21st-century capitalist dream, an intrusion that we've yet learned to manage, but it's clearly a social venue as well—one that's catapulted us into an era of "mass mingling," says trend-watcher Reinier Evers. "More people than ever will be living large parts of their lives online in 2010. Yet, those same people will also mingle, meet up, and congregate more often with other 'warm bodies' in the offline world."
Theodora Stites, a cute and congenial twentysomething, told me when I first interviewed her, "I worry that my generation doesn't know how to be alone." Four years later, this much is abundantly clear: it's not just Stites's generation. Huge numbers of older folks have found their way to various watering holes in cyberspace too. According to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, which has been tracking online habits since 2000, 70 percent of adults 50 to 64 use the Internet, and 38 percent of those 65 and older. iStrategyLabs, an Internet marketing company, found that the 55-plus crowd on Facebook increased by nearly 923 percent between 2008 and 2009.
So if you think you aren't affected, either because it's all too space-agey, too complicated, too scary, or you're just not interested—like Helen, who grouses about cell users' rudeness and finds social media "a time drain" and "boring"—think again. Your kids, your parents, your friends, your clients, your long-lost cousins, and citizens around the world are already swimming in the digital stream. You can't stop the river. Even if you never join Facebook, never read an online newspaper, or never send another e-mail, the Internet—the steam engine of digital technology—will continue to affect you.
How? The answer is different for each of us, but playing nicely in the sandbox of cyberspace is inspiring more and more people to share and cooperate, and by all indications, this mentality is extending into other arenas of life and changing our attitudes toward one another. In neighborhoods, towns, and cities, politics, the arts, businesses, the healing professions, government agencies, charitable institutions, or any other place where cultural scripts play out, one central theme resonates: the growing and unbounded power of public engagement made possible by digital technology.
The Capture of Fire
Crunchy-granola types and top guns make for strange bedfellows, but 40 years ago, when a handful of government, technology, and military specialists conceived the Internet as a warning system against nuclear invasion, members of the counterculture took notice. John Perry Barlow, a cofounder of the Electronic Freedom Foundation and former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, went so far as to liken the Internet's potential to "the capture of fire."
One of the most influential early enthusiasts was Stewart Brand, publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, the go-to resource for everything from composting to cannabis cultivation, first published in 1968. Brand was a big fan of computers, imagining them as "an avenue to realms beyond our dreams." By the mid-'80s, he'd cofounded the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link ("the WELL"), effectively providing a conference room in cyberspace for his planetary-conscious pals.