Humanity is currently in the Interconnected Age. The next stage of human evolution is the Empathically Interconnected Age.
How can that happen? I’ve been pondering for a little while now how we could use social media in a way where people listen and empathize with those who have different views. Is there a way to construct such a system?
It occurred to me two weeks ago that there might be a way to use hashtags for this intention. New issues could get the letters nvc tacked onto the end of the hashtag to indicate a more empathically constructed post. NVC stands for Non-Violent Communication, which are a set of guidelines developed by Marshal Rosenberg for helping us communicate more compassionately with each other. These practices have spread around the world with millions of people practicing them. Here is what the Center for Nonviolent Communication writes “The process of NVC encourages us to focus on what we and others are observing separate from our interpretations and judgments, to connect our thoughts and feelings to underlying human needs/values (e.g. protection, support, love), and to be clear about what we would like towards meeting those needs. These skills give the ability to translate from a language of criticism, blame, and demand into a language of human needs — a language of life that consciously connects us to the universal qualities ‘alive in us’ that sustain and enrich our well being, and focuses our attention on what actions we could take to manifest these qualities.”
The addition of nvc to a hashtag would be a way of denoting more compassionate communicaton. So for instance #fergusonnvc would be a tweet about ferguson that is using nvc language. People on both sides of the issue could tweet about the unmet needs of blacks, and of police, and about the emotions that arise as a result. There is the avoidance of judgmental language. Or for instance #abortionnvc would be about pro-choice and pro-life people tweeting in a non-judgmental ways so both sides can hear each other.
There can be #obamacarenvc , #capitalismnvc , #climatechangenvc , #GMOnvc etc… Studies have shown that tweets and fb posts nowadays are somewhat of an echochamber, it tends to be people who believe the same thing you do who see your messages. This infographic shows how tweets about Ferguson tend to reach out to people with similar views, ‘red’ tweets connect with red viewers, ‘blue’ tweets connect with blue viewers. When red and blue do connect its usually in not nice ways. This hashtag construct is an attempt to bridge the divide.
Our world is faced with such complex, interlinked problems that it will require the multiple diverse demographics sharing each their unique perspective, listening to each other, synthesizing a holistic understanding, and collaboratively emerging a course of action to move us out of them. This can happen through facilitation, through guiding dialogue so that people hear and empathize with each other, rather than stigmatize and insult each other. This can happen through processes that allow people to presence their emotions in safe ways, so that large scale transformation of emotion can occur.
Hashtags are one way to do this. Hashtags are an emergent phenomena, that is grassroots, not imposed from above. They serve as ways of categorizing and as a way for people to find out about different topics to connect. This emergent quality can be used to foster the empathic emergence of human communication across diverse demographics.