What is the nature of human bonds in a time of radically increased connectivity? How and when do we connect and let go, and what are the values we associate with both? How does the availability of near-universal high frequency human interaction drive human evolution as both individuals and “colonies”?
No doubt weighty research psychologists and cultural anthropologists are thinking about these questions. My simple thoughts come from a long Thanksgiving week, one shared by most educators in America, a time away from school to be shared with family and friends. I noticed a radical drop in communication across my social media streams. People disconnected from one or multiple sets of “work”-related hives to focus on different hives: family, non-work friends, neighbors.
Have we yet to find anything close to a balance where we can be connected to multiple hives at once? Do these hive-connections operate in opposition to each other, where attention to one draws us away from another? Do we need a four-day or week-long vacation from our school hive in order to properly pay attention to the “others” in our lives?
Or will we create bridging mechanisms, mental, physical, and virtual, that weave together our hive-interests, that breach the artificial boundaries of “school”, “work”, and “life”? Will we find goodness in that weave, or will it steal from us a quiet and sacred place of aloneness?
Perhaps these are questions that should guide our discussions at school, amongst young and old learners. How do I define my “self” in a time of inevitably increasing connectivity? Are we past the millennia where humans disconnected into quiet introspection to find a core of self-realization? By doing so are we cutting ourselves off from powerful hive connections that help inform who we are, might be, want to be?
I have no idea the answers to these questions; am pretty sure they don’t have “answers” in any common sense. I also don’t think the easy default is necessarily right: that only by disconnection can we truly find our identity as an individual. Perhaps we have more yet to learn from the nature of the herd, the school, the pod, hive, and clan. Perhaps there are really great elements of “tribalism” amongst all the negative connotations of that word.
Or not. But perhaps these are questions we and our students might ponder, an evolution of philosophy taking place right now, certainly at least as relevant as past philosophical evolutions that we ask our students to study and understand. We are evolving into a different “we”, and what can be more important to learning than that?