Social Intelligence

Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection or compassionate action.

Daniel Goleman, from Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

What is the net collective effect of connective technology? Is it increased outward focus and social empathy or increased inward focus and narcissism? I tend to think that anything that allows people to reach beyond previously isolated tribes-ideologies-beliefs-borders, by definition, broadens our collective understanding of who “WE” are. And anything that truly expands our awareness and understanding of the broader human condition must, over time, increase empathy. The more continually aware we become of our collective presence and struggles, the more we will understand, even feel, the reality of others. I suggest that the net impact of connective technology, over generations, will be to diminish our sense of insider/outsider, us/them dualism in religion, politics, and nationalism.

Daniel Goleman’s TED Talk from 2007 — “all it took was a simple act of noticing”


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