On Ray Kurzweil, global awareness and its effects on humans’ brain

If I would be asked to note down right now, very quickly, a message to my future self, I think I would start with something like: “it’s August 2016, and I’ve never felt so powerless in front of what’s happening in the world.”

A few weeks ago Ray Kurzweil stated that “it’s not the world that is getting worse, is our information that is getting better”, meaning that we often have a negative perception of the world’s conditions because, thanks to digital technology and social media, today we have an unprecedented exposition to world’s issues and negative news.

I believe Ray is right — I believe it’s a phenomena based on perception more than anything else.

But I also know that there are significant, delicate events happening in different parts of the world right now, whose evolution most of us are forced to powerlessly look at because we know that we ha have absolute zero control on them or their consequences.

Just opening the Facebook feed of one of my favourite sources of information on global politics, Ian Bremmer, I find: the American Presidential Elections, Populist Parties growing all over Europe, new data on increasing wealth gap, the Refugee Crisis, …

Up to 10 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have had easy access to information about these issues but, most especially, I also probably wouldn’t have felt them able to affect me in any way. Instead, today I read news about US, Greece, Turkey, Syria, … and I know that they do affect me very directly, that they are about me and about my life, that I care about them… even when I don’t understand them fully or when they are about the farthest possible place in the world.

And I know I’m not alone in feeling like this.

How many of us are watching, relentlessly and still completely powerless, the evolution of the American Presidential Elections? Even if we do not live in the US, nor we plan to move then any time soon? How many of us are feeling completely unarmed in front of news about Aleppo, or Venezuela? How many feel directly involved, and concerned?

I know it’s many.

Is it just because we, “millennials”, have an innate global mindset that makes us perceive the world as one country, hence our caring about things no matter where they are happening?

Or is it more about a very rational awareness of today world’s interconnectedness? Is it just low cost-flights and the democratisation of international travelling infrastructures that make us perceive the world as smaller than before, hence we don’t perceive international issues that far anymore?
I don’t think there a unique answer, and of course the reason behind our generation’s global mindset it’s different for each of us.

What I’m interested to further explore though, and even more having the privilege to be part of an international community like Global Shapers, is the true consequence of the friction between feeling directly and emotionally involved with global challenges, and still often have no control upon them.

Yes, social media and internet allow up to help mobilising people, and spread relevant information to sensibilise others on important topics.

But we also know that it’s a very limited mean, not only for the hard-to-break barriers created by social media’s algorithms, but especially because of the magnitude of matters like ceasing fire on Syria or voting for Presidents of a country that is not yours but that you know it’s one of the most influential political power on global level. It matters, a lot, and when we find ourselves with no real force on influence, it frustrates us.

What’s the consequence of this dynamic? What beliefs, psychological and/or emotional consequences creates in our minds? Is this the very backbone of an unprecedentedly socially-responsible generation? Or is it the true consequence behind the alarming increasing depression in youth?

I think these are the true key questions to be asked.

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This post was originally published on Global Shapers Community’s blog.