24 August 2007

Black hand and Silent majority

A short reflection inspired by the special report of Christiane Amanpour at CNN about the "God Warriors":

Some minorities control the stage of most of the social movements (political, economical, religious, cultural, etc).
One of the reasons that explain their power over the whole society is the support that those "Noisy minorities" receive from leaders in the shadow (persons or organization driven by special interests), and the way how the institutions holding the power give them protection and publicity.

But no matter how strong those "Black hands" pulling the strings of the terrorist groups, lobbies, associations or NGOs, is not enough to explain the influence of the noisy monorities have over the whole society.

It's necessary to consider the influence of the "Silent Majorities", because their role is not merely to be the passive target of the pressure from the noisiy minorities to drive the behaviour of the masses towards their particular interests.
Silen majorities express their opinions in different ways and exercise their capability to decide, providing indirect support to the persons or groups in which they perceive the visible impersonation of their deepest ideas or interests.

18 August 2007

Social warming and mass media

Scientists and philosophers have discussed about the characteristics that in the course of the evolution marked a flexion point that differentiated the human being from the rest of the animals. Which was the determinant factor of the emergence of an intelligence that changed the course of the natural evolution in our planet, initiating an era in which a single species is able to transform to itself and to modify its environment? Was it bipedism and the development of the manual skills? Was it the discovery of the fire or the wheel? Or the development of agriculture ?

Over these important landmarks in the history of the human evolution, it excels the development of mass media.
The development of structured language allows not just to transmit concrete messages, but also complex ideas.
The possibility of sharing knowledge, feelings and ideas allowed to develop new forms of social organization.
The internalization of language harnessed the capacities to remember events and experiences, to imagine alternative realities, and to reason.
The transmission of memories in verbal and written form allows to extend beyond spatial and temporal boundaries.
The progressive development of mass media (writing, press, telegraph, radio, television, Internet, etc.) reflects beyond an accelerated technological development, the way in which the messages have become more independent of emitters and receivers.
The independence between the message and the actors of the communication, and its ubiquity extending space, temporary and cultural limits, implies the possibility of altering and even to generate new messages in artificial ways.

Reaching this point, distortions may happen in the personal and collective communication processes, determining a crisis of models, on which solution may depend the course that our civilization will follow.
On one hand, each individual has greater wealth of experiences and cultural contents, and can use powerful means to communicate his ideas.
On the other hand, we are immersed in a grid of messages and cultural products reaching us in such way that is difficult to select and to filter whatever interest us, being exposed to what others want to transmit with the purpose of changing our thought or our behavior.

Commercial, political, religious or cultural interests struggle to control the means and to take advantage of the power that they offer to influence the masses aiming to fulfill their objectives. As the society saturates and perceives the manipulation of the messages that receives, critical mechanisms are developed which can compensate the pernicious effects reducing credibility or interest on certain sources, or generating alternative messages.
These phenomena can occur in a spontaneous way or intentionally directed, and be regulated by means of laws imposed by governments or emerging from the society itself.

In the previous paragraphs I tried to identify some key points to understand of the influence of mass media in the society. This analysis can be deepened and extended, as a bases to establish guidelines to predict or to control the ways in which the mass media can or must be controlled in the processes of awareness and change that have to take place in order to solve the environmental, political, religious and cultural crisis that characterize our civilization.

07 February 2007

Global local social changes

The title of this post seems to contain a contradiction: can be social changes local and global at the same time?

The modern phenomenon of Globalization is mostly supported by the world-wide extension of communication networks, allowing the distribution of any message almost instantly to large audiences. Advances in communication technologies have improved the usage of resources, the access to larger audiences and the availability of messages during longer periods. Increasingly powerful tools (printed books, radio, cinema, television, communication satellites and most recently Internet) play an important role in the change of social structures.
Despite many times the target of a message is restricted to a community (with limits based on geographical, temporal or cultural criteria), the globalization of the communication networks has broken the boundaries and local messages are frequently available for any person around the globe (TV programs of local channels are broadcasted through satellites, local newspapers can be read through Internet, etc.).

At first, we can just study this phenomenon to understand the effects on the behaviour of the people around the world.
For instance, the models seen in the media (TV programs, movies, ads) have a strong influence in the opinions and customs of the audiences, determining the products they buy and how they use it, the attitude towards other people and Nature, etc.

The understanding of the effects and the comprehension of the ways how media can be used to control the behaviour of people may be a scary idea for the most.
But it’s scarier to close the eyes and choose to avoid the issue hoping that nobody will make a bad usage of these means, and that a magic force will keep a balance between the opportunities and the risks.

It’s necessary to improve our knowledge of the globalization of communication media to be able to use it as a powerful tool to correct the many problems that they have contributed to extend and amplify.
Not only setting new rules and filters to minimize the bad effects (similar to the restrictions applied to the tobacco industry, aiming to stop the spread smoking) but also establishing long-term strategies aiming to achieve concrete results that can improve the social structures and the quality of life for every individual.

This idea gives a new meaning to the motto “Think global, act local”.
It's not only about the way how the actions of a person can make a difference on the natural environment.
It's also about how the distribution of ideas and models though globalized media can multiply the effect of individuals by the influence on other persons.

Evolution or revolution?

Not having analyzed or demonstrated (yet) the depth of the crisis of our civilization, we can assume that it’s real and serious and so we can guess what kind of solutions may be available.

Solutions to such complex problems cannot be decided following impulses without previous reflection, because the risks are great and the opportunities to correct errors can be small (at least with regard to global solutions).

Simplifying a lot, the possible solutions could be classified in a scale between two extremes:

- To maintain the “status quo”, patching with remedies for the most serious symptoms, hoping that the tendency reverts and gradually the balance will be restored.

- To abandon the current system and doing “tabula rasa” to concentrate all the resources and efforts in the development of a new civilization following a new model.

According to the values and experiences of each person, we may feel tempted to choose between two extremes, or find a new solution combining both tendencies.

Given to the complexity of the problem and the long time scope required by the solutions, it’s normal that many people may not perceive it (or deny its acknowledgement) and consequently do not feel any necessity to choose.

Personally, my option is to solve the dilemma aiming to find the most constructive solution.

To maintain a critical situation just putting patches palliating only the most serious symptoms will not solve the root problems, and the cost to maintain a tendency that consumes resources and causes more sufferings is too high.

But to throw away everything suddenly, dismantling the fabric of society at once (even if it’s very damaged), putting all the attention to the creation of a new world means not only a short term suffering for those who depends more on the old system but that also implies the risk to throw away the good things together with the bad ones.

For that reason, I believe that the best solution is to begin the construction of a new social model before dismantling the old one, and to plan a gradual transition minimizing the risks to maintain the factors that created the problem while maximizing the preservation of the most valuable resources accumulated along a long history of social evolution (mostly the accumulated knowledge).

30 January 2007

Introduction message

Welcome to this new blog.

This space will contain reflections and perspectives about a type of "Global Warming" that affects human society like Climatic Change affects the Natural Environment of our Planet.

Changes in human societies are as natural as changes in Earth's atmosphere, litosphere and biosphere.
The rythm and nature of changes made in recent historical periods are breaking the natural balance, reaching levels that imply serious risks for the survival of many species (included ourselves).
In a parallel (and not completely independent) process, changes in social structures are accelerating in an uncontrolled way that causes several social and personal disorders and could eventually determine the decline of a civilisation.

This blog will collect different ideas and hints that could help to describe the process of "Global Social Warming", from the macroscopic collective events to the microscopic personal anecdotes. As evidence amounts and characteristics are identified, we may be able to provide an structured perspective that could explain the observed fenomena and eventually propose solutions.

This is a space open to anybody who wants to contribute with news or reflections about the subject, because I believe that identification and solution of solutions must be a collective process.