Experiential and Participatory, those are some of the words that describe how we have changed in the last 40+ years, continuing on with some of my thoughts from my last blog entry, Stand On Zanzibar. We are no longer satisfied to passively watch an entertainer. We are less concerned about finding the right teacher or guru.
In the world of entertainment we want to have an active role. At the very least we want to choose when we watch a television program or vote for the winner of a reality TV series. Many of us want and expect our entertainment to come from multiple platforms. We want more than a book or a TV program; we want a larger experience. [Last night I finished Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik, and one of my first thoughts was “I wonder which dragon I am" and made a mental note to see if there was a personality quiz on-line.] We twitter, blog, Facebook, YouTube. If we can’t be discovered by a talent scout, we put our art out on the internet and let the “public decide.” We write fan fiction, create avatars, roleplay our favorite characters. It used to be only a bunch of nerds wearing Mr. Spock ears; now a larger percent of us want to be immersed in our entertainment.
The authority figure role has also diminished over the last 40 years. Instead of a staff of paid encyclopedia writers, people from all over share their knowledge on sites like Wikipedia. We ask questions in internet groups. We share recipes and helpful hints on websites. We are more likely to actively seek out the answers ourselves from multiple sources, rather than looking to one expert and, we are more likely to want to make the final decision ourselves.
I am reading Jung on Active Imagination by Joan Chodorow. Carl Jung drew mandalas almost every morning in 1918 through 1919. Finally one day he realized: “One could not go beyond the center. The Center is goal and everything is directed toward that center,…the self is the principle and archetype of orientation and meaning.” This profound idea helped change psychology. But the point is that Jung actively participated in the process. He needed to experience hundreds of mandalas to reach his conclusion. He was an unusual man. Now, more and more people want to interact with life experientially, whether directly or virtually, to find their wisdom.
I hear friends and family lamenting about how few people attend Sunday services. Many churches are filled with old congregates. Part of the situation is that traditional churches are working on the old model. Younger people want an experiential religion. They are less likely to want someone with impressive credentials standing in front of them. Yet, I also hear of churches bucking the trend and creating new experiences for their members, some taking full advantage of social media.
Part of the revolution of the last forty years is where we put ourselves. We are no longer playing follow the leader. We are putting ourselves in the center of our world and then creating the picture of our lives by reaching out to the larger world around us. The idea is not so different from Jung and his mandalas.