What Happened to the Power of We?
WE used to be a powerful force in our lives. It was the power of we that helped the greatest generation triumph in the wake of the world wars. The power of ‘WE’ put a man on the moon, overcame communism, and defined a nation. But today, trends in technology, politics, and mobility have converged to unravel the awesome power of we.
When I talk about the power of WE, I’m talking about the power of an active community. Back in the day, people gathered in community to spark action. For example, Rotary and Kiwanis used to be the communities of choice for young professionals looking to make impact. These communities provided social connection and an outlet for active service. Today’s version of community is a far cry from this. The same technology that makes it easier than ever to connect also makes it shockingly simple to avoid a genuine connection with one’s fellow man/woman.
The result is that right after we dump ice buckets on our heads, tweet about a cause, or like a social issue on Facebook, we’re able to tune it right back out and go on with our lives. By failing to make a person to person connection, I fear that today’s millennials are squandering the opportunity to use our technological prowess to grow the power of we. And here’s the sad part…
Millennials should be the most WE generation ever. Nearly every millennial in the U.S. is running around with a supercomputer in their pocket (we call them smartphones). This means we’re immediately connected to triumph and tragedy all over the world.
And yet, we’re not…most millennials are using this amazing power not to create social action, but to create social separation. Think about it – it is now possible to live almost fully in an online community where you have no genuine person to person interaction. As a result, most millennials are using that supercomputer not to make the world a better place, but to exchange gossip about what happened on last night’s episode of The Bachelor.
Let’s check out a few other facts:
Dylan Roof, the Charleston shooter, was a millennial. This article shows how his actions completely shattered the notion that millennials are somehow more ‘WE’ centered than other generations. While Dylan was one person, a deeper look at his story shows that he was a product of disconnected community. And that’s the problem today: despite our myriad opportunities to strengthen the power of we, millennials have actually grown the lines separation between our communities.
Think Charleston’s an isolated incident? Think again. Our communities are more divided than ever. In The Big Sort, it was found that communities all over America are becoming more homogenous in terms of ideology, class, race, politics, and religion. Millennials can instantly be connected with nearly every community online, and yet our physical communities are more divided than ever. This is because we’ve forgotten the power of WE.
While you chew on that, have a look at this:
Any guesses on what that’s a pic of? It’s a ‘map’ of Detroit, Michigan and each dot represents a cluster of people. The blue dots represent people of color whereas red dots are Caucasians. The lines of separation could not be clearer. In fact, I was shocked by how straight and clear the lines were. You’d think that there would be some blurring of lines, but the reality is Detroit’s boundaries are a stark reminder of how disconnected our communities tend to be. Even sadder still, if I were to get one map showing poverty, another showing educational achievement, and overlay them over this color coded map we have here, I’d bet it would look very similar. In other words, the communities of color in Detroit would also be its most disadvantaged.
You see now why I wonder what happened to the power of WE? Despite myths that millennials are more inclusive, that technology is more connective, and that border lines don’t matter, our cities are still just as separated as ever.
We’ve lost the power of WE. We’ve become so deeply disconnected that different worlds exist not just between nations, but across streets in this nation’s greatest cities. Instead of tech becoming a great connecter, it is the great divider. It affords us the opportunity to further separate ourselves by aligning only to the groups, news, and friends who match our point of view.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We at WonderWE believe that tech can serve as the great connector, but only to the extent that it builds true community. True community involves genuine interpersonal connection. It involves the crossing of physical boundaries. It involves tying one’s destiny to the destiny of those who have been separated out.
WonderWe crafts technology for good. Social movements often begin online, but they seldom end there. So, we take it a step further than everyone else by providing avenues for action. Avenues where you can find genuine opportunities to volunteer, serve, and to give. Opportunities to rediscover the power of WE.