Sometimes things shift, the world changes. And what about us? We’re initially overwhelmed. This is completely understandable and has always been the case. It’s best to reflect upon the experience of our forefathers and look to the future.
Human society is constantly developing, with its evolution divided into four different eras: the spoken word, written word, printed word and digital word. Major changes that transform society, our way of thinking and therefore our view of the world. But this process isn’t seamless. On the contrary: such changes always produce an excess of meaning that initially overwhelms society and therefore its structures and cultures. Society must then seek ways and means of dealing with this situation and reducing its complexity, in order to cope with the change. This was the case with the previous three changes and is also now affecting the computer age, i.e. digitalisation.
Far-reaching changes are never easy: they hurt and can plunge us into real crises. But this is a good thing because in a crisis, we have to find new ways and means of organising and orienting ourselves. This can happen at various levels: personal, professional and political – a divorce, redundancy or the election of an unpleasant president. Our previously secure, stable view of the world falters, we stumble, flounder and question our values and ideals. We go on the defensive and initially reject the changes.
Rejection leads to acceptance
According to German sociologist and thinker in systems theory Niklas Luhmann, denial is a prerequisite of and for communication, and resistance to digitalisation is therefore a prerequisite for its implementation. This is because all communication contains a “reference to excess meaning”, referring to its actual meaning in the context of another possible meaning, with this excess meaning making it comprehensible. Digitalisation can be regarded as a new media era, which in turn can be compared with previous eras. And the question therefore arises of how society has managed to structure and categorise these excess meanings.
The search for new structures and meaningfulness initially creates confusion. In order to understand the new world, new ways of thinking must be devised. This takes time and effort. And courage to move forward.
Dialogue of the future
What does this mean for us, for the way in which we interact? How will dialogue work in future? The communication of information will no longer be linear, but rather in the form of a matrix. Added to this is the sheer volume of information and the acceleration in complexity, as increasing numbers of devices are now involved in communication and everything can suddenly be networked and changed. At any time and without specific limits. Straightforward occasions, such as conferences and similar events, may suddenly appear and be run very differently because they require more interaction or incorporate new elements that previously did not seem to fit the context. And yes, it will initially overwhelm us and we’ll initially reject it, because we don’t understand it. And that’s good; it’s all part of the process. Only then will we be able to accept it and move forward. Will you join us?
Image: © Maxim Tikhansky CC BY
Published 30.05.2017 © Brandsoul AG