I recently listened to Paul Wheaton‘s ‘beyond organic’ podcast and he mentioned some interesting, thought-provoking things. One of the topics was the idea of consuming vs participating in relation to information passed around or available on the Internet. He made the argument that the teen-age crowd dominates the culture and controls the Internet because they are the active participants. (check out the popular videos on youtube) Older generations, like the gen-x-er one I’m part of, are consumers only. Even if they get value from reading or seeing something, they typically will not share it, or pass it on, or like it on facebook, or vote it up on any of the social media sites, or comment on it, or help spread the word. They treat information on the Internet like watching TV or listening to the radio, receive-only mode.
If you are the type of person who cares about your place on the earth, and you want to leave some sort of positive impression before you are worm food, now is an unprecidented time in human history to do this, with almost no effort at all! You can contact 100 people in just a few seconds via email, or if you use better tools like social media, it could be thousands of people in the same amount of time. I believe this is similar to what Dan Carlin calls ‘slacktivisim’, the great affect of doing very little actual work, through the use of awesome communications and the power of lots of people doing the same thing.
Something I’m pretty sure about is that these trends will continue. The Internet is changing our lives. I think the people who are participants will benefit in ways that the consume-only crowd will not understand, and will likely criticize. My question is, “how easy does it have to be before everyone takes on an active role of making things around them better?”