Sunday, November 06, 2011

Social Media is Bringing About a "Public Opinion Singularity"

In the blog "Punk Views On Social Media" there is a recent post by Maddie Grant titled "Celebrity Schmelebrity - The Facts Don't Lie" where she talks about how celebrity endorsements are becoming completely irrelevant to consumers and public opinion.

The compelling part of this for me is how it is another indication that as an evermore internet-connected community we are starting to see the emergence of a richer, more adaptable and more intelligent "public opinion". This new Public Opinion is becoming more and more immune all the time to manipulation by an "elite few". That is a really good thing.

But celebrity influence dropping off is only one aspect of this. This is also happening with elite politicians and the wealthy elite becoming less effective at consistently influencing the pubic opinion of the middle classes everywhere. (Arab Spring, Occupy WallStreet, etc.)

The traditional influence of the elite is losing ground because it now has to overome the growing percentage of time each day we all are spending "listening" to each other directly via our Facebook friends, our self-filtered Twitter feeds and and other crowd-sourced media such as blogs and blog comments. We still are consuming the highly homogenized and/or highly filtered feeds from 20th century style news-media but now we are forming our voting opinions much more often when we test our thinking about those topics with our now more trustworthy social networks.

Read the Wikipedia entry on "public opinion" and you start to see the historical context for how "public opinion" is now going nonlinear in it's complexity and power because of the influence of realtime, crowd-controlled social media.

The end result is we are going to rapidly approach a "Public Opinion Singularity" where public opinion will begin to evolve and grow overwhelmingly powerful by riding on the ever more frictionless surface of uncontrolled social media interactions. If we are able to keep the internet open and free, in the face of the elite starting to see this dynamic and fear the loss of power, I see good things happening.

Public opinion is about to rapidly achieve a form of benevolent "near-sentience" that will leave no place for totalitarianism and negative, anti-social beliefs to hide from the spotlight.

The cool thing also is this intelligent, benevolent form of intelligent public opinion will be the most powerfully positive peer pressure we've ever known as a race. It will quite rapidly, in relative historical context,  purge negativity and the attitudes of scarcity and selfishness from our human dialogues. We are about to evolve into a new phase of human society and human existence where the most effective form of government, benevolent dictatorship, will be achieved in a very interesting/surprising way. 

The "benevolent dictator" that will emerge will not be one person who's whims, and finite lifespan, might send us into the ditch. Instead It will be an ageless, crowd-sourced, nearly-sentient construct called "human public opinion" that will be the sum total of all the "better angels of our nature" connected together in an always-on fashion via the global social network.

The hard part is we'll go through a phase marked by the painful extraction of negativity and toxic attitudes from the collective consciousness. (Already happening now in totalitarian states and contexts everywhere.)

But make no mistake it will be a good thing. As much as you might think negativity dominates the human condition the reality is negativity, and selfishness, is only a small part of our total experience. Most people on this planet are overwhelming decent, thoughtful, loving and compassionate by nature in their daily lives. 

Social media is revealing that fact to all of us and making us a better race for it because allows us to be "good" way more than "bad".  Imagine what we can all do together when this process reaches it's logical conclusion over the next 20 years?

John Lennon's vision in his song "Imagine" is within our reach if we keep reaching just a bit longer.