martes, 27 de febrero de 2007

Chapter seven: The Global Citizen, Sustainable Development Consciousness

“The medium, or process, of our time – electric technology is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. Everything is changing: you, your family, your education, your neighborhood, your job, your government, your relation to the others. And they're changing dramatically".
Marshall McLuhan, communication theorist

A new individual is arising. For two years we have seen these people pass like a shadow, but we haven’t lost their trail. They are people who are conscious of their role in society and participate through the media. And the medium of our era is digital technology.

The new individual is a global citizen who is connected to the world and online. Not surfing but googling. These people don’t passively receive information, but participate – mistrust traditional media, and challenge them.

“Besides breathing, what else do you do more than 3,000 times a day? What you do, or rather what you get done to you, is receive thousands of messages aimed at making you buy something”. Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerce

The new individual no longer watches a 30-minute news program or spends hours in front of the paper, but rather, on turning his personal computer on every morning (or entering a cybercafé), finds the news services he chose to subscribe to on the screen. He converses online and doesn’t want to be directed. He no longer writes to the paper’s “Readers’ Mail” page, but prefers the immediacy of Internet – and interacting to making speeches.

Signs: We are connected
• In Latin America, cell phones rapidly reached every social class and age group. Considered luxury goods or a working tool a few years ago, cell phones are now used by teenagers to send text messages (SMS) to their friends, by parents to know where their children are, by wives to know at what time their husbands will get home, and by those living in underprivileged neighborhoods, where telephone networks still haven’t arrived.
• Broadband connectivity is likewise reaching critical levels. Some access the new media via their laptop computers or iPods, and the majority of people do so at a cybercafé for less than 20 US cents an hour.
• 40,000 people participated in a cyber-activism campaign in Argentina. Encouraged by Greenpeace, they sent SMS from their cell phones so that Buenos Aires legislators would pass a “zero-garbage” law. It was a success.
• An amazing 500,000 million SMS are exchanged every year worldwide.

From consumer to selector
“By the time he or she finishes high school, an American teenager will have watched 350,000 commercial ads. The average adult watches 21,000 commercials a year. We are taught to identify car models rather than bird species, so much that we can identify a thousand brand logos but less than ten native trees. Besides breathing, what else do you do more than 3,000 times a day? What you do, or rather what you get done to you, is receive thousands of messages aimed at making you buy something,” remarked Paul Hawken in 1992, author, among other books, of The Ecology of Commerce.

The new individual, on the contrary, selects what he consumes, refusing to be overwhelmed and convinced by advertising to buy a certain product. Not accepting sales ads at face value, he wants to have things explained to him, wants to be engaged in dialog, to be heard – and is consequently more and more reluctant towards traditional advertising strategies.

The new individual does not reject consuming, but rather (since there was never so much information available regarding the history behind each product) makes, for the first time, purchase decisions based on companies’ ethical behavior. Pioneer brands such as American Apparel, Patagonia and Camper have made him used to reading labels, to learning which are the clean technologies and how his decisions can make a difference in issues of concern such as environment, labor and health. He is aware, and becomes a fan of trusted brands. He looks for authenticity and reacts strongly against deception and shallowness.

The new individual = The global citizen

Chilean students used SMS, MSN, and other Internet tools to paralyze all the schools in their country. With their students’ strike, they forced Michelle Bachelet’s government to promote a change in educational policies.

Local and global
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project research entitled “Online Communities: Networks that nurture long-distance relationships and local ties”, some 45 million people who participate in online communities say that Internet has helped them connect with other persons or groups with shared interests, regardless of distance. Research also discovered that these virtual relationships are becoming offline interactions. “Internet also helps people increase their contacts with other people they already know and who live in their community,” the report concludes.

With regard to this, French-Canadian philosopher Hervé Fischer affirms that digital technologies offer more than one alternative to build a society that is more equitable and humanistic: “We have to go from the society of competitive loneliness to the society of shared responsibilities and solidarities. We have to create a ‘hyperhumanism’: a new social model based, like the digital hypertext, on links.”

That’s what the phenomenon is called. It refers to Internet’s aptitude for widening the social world of people who are physically far apart (global level) while at the same time connecting them in a deeper manner with the place they live in and their immediate surroundings (local level). It is thus that users start to gain awareness of problems afflicting their communities and to look for answers to those problems. They start wanting to cooperate, worrying about what happens on the block, at their schools, to their neighbors.

It’s just a few steps from this shared interest to the weaving of a web, a social and digital network. To thinking globally and acting locally.

The new individual:
• Creates.........................................Wikipedia
• Communicates ........................... RSS / Permalink

• Cooperates ..................................Glocalization

No hay comentarios: