The Contagiousness of Ideas

I am addicted to facebook. I spend most of my waking life on it, scrolling through banality. I can spend hours looking at the exact same posts over and over again looking for change. I try to do other things like watch talks, or do work, but I always end up having a facebook tab open, glancing over to see that (1) pop up on the tab. I could be using this time spinning poi, or learning new things, but mostly, I use facebook to avoid writing essays, doing readings etc. Today I stumbled upon what could possibly be the coolest concept for a social network I have ever seen. Ideapod is a social network (still in beta sadly), that is centered around sharing ideas, theoretical perspectives, imaginative discourses! Productive social networking. The first talk I found was hosted by Jason Silva (no surprise there), entitled The Power of Ideas. In the video Jason talks about ideas that are contagious, that are so popular and so fascinating that they end up becoming part of the dominant discourse, a given part of our perceptual framework.

Whenever we share a concept, a wikipedia article, a TED talk, or even a book, we are helping to pass on a viral idea that might one day be a given in society. That is actually one of the few things I find alluring about facebook (although it rarely meets this expectation). Facebook has the potential to be filled with ethnographic ideas of self, and articles for social change. It can help people plan with other people, and work on things in real life. It is also a tool that can help us communicate with people thousands of miles away. My thoughts and ideas can be converted into electrical signals and transported thousands of miles, and that’s just me sharing a post with one of my friends back in Toronto. It is a tool that I think we use rather poorly. People are less likely to click things you source yourself, they appeal to authoritative sites like “upworthy” for their socially sanctioned appreciation of the world. Groups like TED, or Ideapod have the potential to change thinking like that. Even we have the ability to create a more critically engaged world.

If Ideas are memetic, then anyone and everyone who believes the idea of debating and thinking has a responsibility to try and share that idea with strangers. It is the basis for shaking our worldview, inspiring creativity. Paradigm shifts happen because of passionate people, not champagne philosophers. Consider that 600 years ago people on the American continents did not know that there existed a slew of civilizations living on the Asian, European and African continents. They probably did not even know such continents could exist, and vice versa! Now, if you forgot North America existed, you would be seen as crazy! 70 years ago we could not send people into space, 30 years ago the public did not have mainstream computer access. Now (at least in the Global North) these ideas are a given, they have spread to a point where it is assumed that you would know these events occurred. Can you imagine a world without youtube, giving us access to so much content and information? It’s so insane how rapidly ideas can be internalized into our common cultural brain.

 

Right now we need spaces that are well equipped to handle complex ideas in an understandable and tangible way.

I will write more about this topic on the weekend!

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