30 Mar Digital: when the real innovation is to find our human nature again
Is it still original (and useful) to discuss Digital Culture? Aren’t we a little bored with this topic, that has been emptied of its depth and of its true meaning? Aren’t we tired of being constantly reminded of its importance, through incessant suggestions for events, workshops and related activities?
Recently, I have asked myself these questions often. To be honest, I have been thinking about this topic for a few years now, ever since I realized what a great opportunity the digital era offers. The way I see it, this fully-fledged opportunity could be compared to the innovative energy felt at the beginning of the last century, which saw the grand development of motor cars and their incredible diffusion, to the point of revolutionize completely our way of thinking, our lifestyle.
See, the digital era is a revolution that can definitely be compared to that, it changed our existence forever but, evidently, the fact that we are living it firsthand, makes it less fascinating, less legendary; contrary to expectations, many of us seem to endure it more than anything else. We always seem to get stuck between unnecessary fears and excessive optimism and living in this digital times also means relating to people from every generation; it often happens that digital natives (as I am) have made internet their job, developing new ideas and finding room for creativity, while millennials have a lack of interest in it, they seem more skeptical, less enthusiasted.
I often live it firsthand; I, who watched Carosello when I was a little girl and had my first cellphone when I was 30 years old, have to confront myself with younger generations that don’t seem fascinated in the least with the digital world and its applications. I feel just as uncomfortable when, talking to people of my generation and sharing my involvement and deep commitment to the digital world, they look at me with diffidence, skepticism and if it’s my lucky day, I get shut down with a classic ‘don’t talk to me about it, I can’t understand a thing about computers and I don’t really care’.
A while ago I came across an article where I found an explanation, basically a conclusion, to my considerations, “The three fundamental laws of the Perception of Progress”, written by Douglas Adams, in 1999: 1.Everything you find in the world at birth is taken for granted. 2. Everything invented between your birth and your thirties is exciting and creative and if you are lucky you can build your career upon it. 3. Everything invented after your thirties is an insult to the natural order of things, it’s the beginning of the end of civilization and only after it’s been around for at least ten years it becomes almost normal. If you think about it, these rules help us understand what happens basically every day. Examples that prove these points are several, they reach us from more traditional media, like the social networks. They scare who tries to resist the change but they also allow us, who embraced the digital culture, to discuss them and find new solutions.
Change means taking responsibility and awareness
By now we have realized it’s time we stop treating digital like something that doesn’t concern us, or like a cure for all ills. In this digital era and with new ways of communicating and sharing, we discover ourselves more human than what we would have expected.
We realize that our attitude towards change is natural just like the history of the world, it follows the same logics and we just have to go along with it and spread awareness; because if achieving the goals and benefits given by technologic innovation, during the course of all human history, allowed us to live better and longer, to travel and communicate faster, the downside of it all is the exponential increase of responsibility that this innovations put in front of us. We know well that we haven’t been able, often times, to put this responsibility to good use. So, if we don’t want to be labeled as a “an army of morons with the right to speak of a Nobel” (cit. Umberto Eco), we have to be conscious of the fact that, in front of so much democracy, there isn’t anarchy and chaos, but an opportunity that we need to grow, to share, to expand, each one of us in their own way.
The sore point of the web
In the world there are about 3 billions of people that have internet access. Potentially, all of these people can express themselves, influence others. We could say that, from this point of view, the web is actually the most democratic channel ever existed. But is it true? We settled in and we made the web our new territory, without considering the unknown dynamics that would develop from this choice. First of all, we should accept the fact that we reached a higher level of digital deus ex machina to our personal everyday existence. And secondly, the social dynamics have not been democratized at all, we are not walking towards a path of equality, breaking down the barriers. Quite the contrary. Ironically, the barriers seem to be more resistant, positions seem stricter, groups are more exclusive.
The solution could be to take a step back
We live in the day and age of sharing and collaborating, where people can create content and share it, without needing a mediator. Technology allows this and transforms it in a qualifying factor, Socials become expressive, they invade our life, they take over the dynamics that normally govern our relationships. Are we able to independently assess the way we relate to change? Can we actually quantify how much this globalization, that makes us all connected, makes us also citizens of the world? Do we realize that, in this context, we have the responsibility to be ‘good’ digital citizens, and that this entails, today more than ever, that we need to discover again those concrete values, those that make us better people, those that make us grow? Too many questions maybe, but they are essential.
These questions could be starting points to reevaluate the authenticity of our human nature. The key here is authenticity. Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror. Who are we? A mix of contradictions. We are humans. It is much easier for a human being to connect with another human being rather than to a robot, a blog post, a picture on one of our Social Media, even if it’s beautiful and empathic. People want to know the truth, but, ironically, they have to come to terms with hypocrisy. We are talking about true hypocrisy, the one that project a different image of ourselves, a filtered one, that doesn’t allow our human nature to be reflected, but instead hides it from us. That is why authenticity is so important. To be genuine is like getting insurance. Maybe you won’t need it but, if you do, you are happy you purchased it. After all, we don’t have absolute answers, we are free to live in our digital world, our shared space, deciding the rules, choosing the trend that better suit us, no matter if it’s devoted to authenticity or hypocrisy.
A few months ago I saw a movie that talked exactly about this: ‘Perfect strangers’ bring to the surface weaknesses and insecurities of the main characters and shows the radical change caused by the powerful interference of the newest means of communication in our everyday life. I am not going to give you a review of the movie, also because it really doesn’t offer a solution, but it makes us think and ends with a statement that I found to be perfect for this post (food for thoughts): “we are all breakable, some more, some less”.
As a web marketing consultant, Maria Cristina Pizzato helps businesses and professionals to enhance their online presence, especially through inbound marketing.
She has been a blogger since 2010, she is the project creator for an innovative idea in the handmade environment, she had the opportunity to study new web marketing strategies, community management, copywriting and placement of online content right on the field. The web marketing and social media dynamics became her passion and Maria Cristina, who defines herself as a true creative person, found the perfect space to express her personality.
You can read more about Maria Cristina on her blog and on her Socials, where she is constantly present.