The web reminded me that tomorrow is the summer solstice – the longest day of the year and the official start of summer for many in the US. Yes, definitely time for those white shoes to come out….And yet this day is not summer solstice everywhere – in the southern hemisphere it is the winter solstice. It is not the longest day for the good folks in Sydney, Australia or in Lima, Peru. As a big proponent of looking at every situation from multiple perspectives, I like that even natural verities are not absolutes.
We have come a long way from believing that the earth is the center of the universe, or from treating people as heretics for challenging widely accepted truisms such as the earth is flat or that leeching is good for human health. There is enough evidence in human history to show that there is no such thing as a given. We work with broad assumptions that are supported by the cultural, social, political and economic realities of our time. While those of a scientific temperament everywhere scream at me, let me state that people and their connections are the core realities of life!
My excitement about social media comes from this belief in the centrality of human interactions. Today’s New York Times has an article about the social technology bubble and the possible over-valuation of LinkedIn and Facebook. All very likely true. But, this still does not negate the fact that social technology, Web 2.0, has re-framed our world. I write this not with the passion of a zealot, but with the dispassion of a skeptic. That is, social media is changing the way we live – and not always for the better!
What does all this have to do with absolutes? In a world where there are no absolutes, understanding varied perspectives, multiple view-points and forming connections can be a source of strength. While not all interactions are enriching or even productive, the opportunity to see the world from other points-of-view is one of the most exhilarating things about social media. So, as I look forward to enjoying my summer solstice, I am sure I’ll get to read someone’s account of their winter solstice!
So, here is to a happy solstice!