Fractalization in the Age of Mergers
Are we sacrificing compassion for convenience?
It’s been fewer than 40 years since the first commercially available cell phone appeared on the market. In that time, it went from being a simple flipper to an indispensable everything device. With the advent of mobile internet connectivity, you could set a schedule, guide a ride, remotely heat a home or learn some Spanish in seconds. For anything you want or need right now, there’s likely an app for that.
Even more quickly — within 30 years — an online bookseller became a global technology juggernaut with filmmaking, groceries, logistics, pharma, robotics and security in its portfolio. Like its logo suggests, Amazon can bring you just about anything from A to Z.
It would seem that we’ve entered into an age of mergers — where a handheld computer becomes an all-access pass and a store becomes an all-acquiring, all-purveying empire. In a quest to become the ultimate one-stop-shop for all things things, these tools and trades cannibalize and cater to our every consumption.
The irony is, that for all the convenience and connection machines and megacorps bring, humans have become so disconnected that we often see each other as an inconvenience. Ugh, that car is so slow. Ew, this place has gone downhill. Argh, they’re wrong on every issue. Complaints without solutions and conflicts without compassion are on display in perpetual, public ways. We’ve become a species of Mandelbrats — fractal in opinion, fragile in temperament and inter-tribally intolerant — despite our common air and origin.
Granted, it’s tough to improve communication amid the increasing meta-fication of modern relationships. We’re constantly inundated with micro-targeted news and ads that serve algorithmic, artificial selection agendas — further segmenting society by reinforcing our allegiances. But while complexity and divergence are bound to continue — they are, after all, evolutionary impulses — such developments don’t require us to devolve into division. We can transcend our fears of change and the unknown to move toward mutual understanding.
Part of achieving deeper understanding means cultivating an awareness of how bubbular we’ve become, individually and collectively. It’s easy for anyone to fall into the trap of seeking only what confirms preconceived notions. It’s even easier to do behind the veil of anonymity, slumped on the unquestioning couch of conformity. So, instead of face-down absorption and headline assertion, we can return to the original facetime — open conversation. Eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart, we can listen, challenge assumptions and learn from each other.
The truth may be multi-faceted, but it’s only as fragmented as the most inflexible, limited perspectives. Together, with openness and curiosity, we can navigate the existential rituals of culture, conflict and contradiction. Maybe then will we reemerge to meet the messes of our time without creating new ones. Now, wouldn’t that be a spectacular merger?