Information, Awareness, and Healing
In addition to contemplating the value of mutual guarantee, thus increasing its “popularity,” we need to contemplate ways of inculcating it through action. One such possibility is to bring as many experts, such as Christakis, Fowler, and others, under an umbrella organization that will make these ideas available through the education system, the media, and via popular entertainment.
The manner in which these ideas will be expressed should be left to the professionals in each field, just as musicians and filmmakers express their ideas today. Every person consumes different kinds of media, entertainment, and information. People already know what they like to watch and read, and where they like to go. Some people like to watch TV at home, some in the gym, and some in the bar. Some don’t like TV at all, but consume their information and entertainment through the internet. All of that may remain the same, but what does need to gradually change is the kind of content these outlets present.
Currently, they present a wealth of information, most of which we are not even aware that we are consuming. We simply enjoy reading or watching it without thinking too much about it. Within the media, however, are people such as advertisers who skillfully implant their ideas in our minds—such as that one company is better than another, or that without the newest gadget in the market our lives will not be worth calling a “life.” While these ideas are false, they sink into our minds and trouble our thoughts until we ease our minds by buying the advertised item.
Now, consider what would happen if our minds were implanted with the idea that we are all interconnected, and that hurting others is just like hurting yourself. What would it be like if the world followed the motto—“If you’re not good, you’re no good”?
But not only the media needs to change. If schools taught “Connectivity Classes,” if you could major in “practical interconnectedness” at university, or coach “prosocial networking” to individuals and company staffs, a whole new social atmosphere, a new buzz of connectedness would emerge. Within a few months, people would come to feel that there was a genuine alternative to self-centeredness—one that offered greater value for a lower cost.
Everything would change. Instead of ordering others around, idea sharing would be the way to connect with co-workers and peers at school. Personal tests at schools and universities would become obsolete because a person’s skills would not depend on the extent to which one could memorize answers. Instead, one’s value would reflect the extent to which one was connected, or the level to which one has developed channels of information. In such a state, a personal test would be irrelevant; a group assignment would be a far more appropriate means of evaluation.
In addition to the changes at work or school, our social lives will be transformed. When connectedness is key to one’s success and happiness, what one cultivates is one’s connections. Connections are made not only at work, but to a great extent during our “off duty” hours. As a result, attending outings, socializing, playing, and deliberating would become far more popular because they would not have a mere recreational value, but would be regarded as a contribution to one’s entire life.
At work, too, the atmosphere would be far more sociable, as socializing would be a tool for personal and professional advancement. Moreover, an appreciation of our interdependence and the importance of positive social connections would diminish the frequency of unfair or unjust behavior at work. As Christakis mentioned in his above-mentioned lecture, “If I were always violent toward you ... or made you sad ... you would cut the ties to me and the network would disintegrate.” This would be counterproductive to one’s personal and professional advancement.
The fundamental concept is simple: We are all interconnected, hence interdependent. Therefore, we must solve our problems in the spirit of mutual guarantee, where all are guarantors of each other’s well-being.
If, for instance, a company decided it needed to improve its business performance and make it suitable for the globalized world, the company would ask a mutual guarantee coach to train staff (employers and employees alike) to work and think “as a company” in an interconnected world. The results would be improved interpersonal connections, a better flow of information throughout the company, a greater degree of trust at all levels, and a more thorough examination of each stage in the design and production of products, thus yielding better products and enhancing customer relations.