What I would consider the tragedy of our times is that we are more connected than ever, and yet, we don’t realize it and don’t truly live it.”
Michael Wesch, PhD, a Cultural Anthropologist, stated the above at the end of a talk at PopTech where he shared insights from an exploration of one of today’s most defining characteristics – the development of online culture.
Here is a 6 min. clip with highlights from the lecture:
At the start of the lecture, Wesch clarifies the significance of media in shaping human culture and relationships:
Media is like an environment, it takes us over, and sort of consumes us in many ways. Media are not just tools, they’re not just means of communication, media actually mediate our conversations. Media, in some ways, determine or dictate who can say what to who, what they can say, how it will be said etc. And so, when media change – our conversations change.”
He later adds that the really deep question that he and his students are trying to get at is
not only how our conversations are changing but how our communities might be changing, and even how our selves are changing.”
In contrast to old forms of media, Wesch analyzes the nature of new social media as:
• not controlled by the few,
• not one way,
• created by, for, and around networks, not masses
• having the potential to transform individual pursuits into collective action.”
Towards the end of the presentation, he shows the most responded-to video in the early days of YouTube – an anonymous video that encouraged people all over the world to share messages of love and oneness.
I hope it doesn’t come off as blind optimism,” he says, “because, in fact, these people would not be writing these messages if these things actually existed. If we were one world and one people and all those types of things, then they wouldn’t need to say it.”
You can watch the full lecture (19 min.) here: Mike Wesch: Lessons From YouTube