The passage of time has of course brought with it massive change, presenting us with some astounding technological advances, which have improved the way we live. On balance it can be said there have been more positive additions then negative outcomes.
I would like to put forward a proposition that although our lives have mainly benefited by the above, we are now facing some societal behaviours which could have never previously been envisaged, please allow me to explain the substance of my concerns and why we should consider some fresh thinking.
More than fifty years ago I grew up in a small coal mining village in England, life was tough but we had a great community spirit and we were taught good human values. One of the features of village life was the so called “jungle drums” which usually took the form of women leaning over their respective garden fences and engaging in a good old natter, in other words the spread of gossip. Similar behaviours could be seen by the males in the village when they congregated in the local working man’s club after completing t their shift. (In their case they would not readily admit it but they engaged in the same behaviour).
These conversations could be the catalyst to support someone or a family but at the same time discussions were regularly held to denigrate without really knowing the true facts.
Move forward to today and on one hand oh how those communications have changed and expanded stretching across the globe by the use of technology we have now rebranded the term and given it the name of “Speculation”.
The power and use of technology has allowed us to communicate within seconds after an event has occurred and whilst the ladies and gentleman of over fifty years ago did it by word of mouth, their topics of conversation were relayed to only a small audience. Today the verbal digital traffic involves all genders and covers the complete spectrum of our lives including, politics, religion, economic s and social issues.
The reality is a good proportion of the population now have the means to openly share their thoughts, which in itself is quite liberating but there is a barb. We are experiencing an overload of information and our need for immediacy has comprised the quality of the communication, sacrificing proven facts for various opinions which appear in a lot of cases seem to be badly constructed.
The definition as stated in the Oxford Dictionary:
Speculation: “The forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence”
(I must also point out the definition of speculation also relates to the system of acquiring further wealth by risk which in its own way has had its challenges in recent years).
The effects of this phononmen has the potential to further damage our societies on a scale we have never witnessed before, creating the erosion of confidence, motivation , trust and finally ending in a state of inertia where we are seemingly paralysed to act as confusion reigns.
There is no doubt in my mind that the confusion and instability we are seeing from this explosion of opinions has an effect on the mindsets of the individual and collectively the country, creating an negative environment where we are perpetually looking over our shoulder for a further round of uncertainty and discourse.
The engine room of speculation not only stems from new technology, but the actions and intentions of a media whose reach knows no bounds and has developed into one of societies most powerful influencers. It has formed pathways which no authority has been able to block, seizing every opportunity to introduce incendiaries of opinion which can culminate in wild debate, polarising positions. We have to hand it to them, their strategy has been exceptionally successful and they have moved into a central role in how the world operates. Although many deny it, we the individual are culpable of supplying the fuel for them to create such a fire in almost every walk of life .Levels of speculation range from serious world issues to trivial matters it seems we have found a new addiction of which we are having real difficulty in exercising restraint.
I would like to put forward the simple proposition is that we must evolve a framework of education for all levels of society based around the principle of reaching balanced views and conclusions of the information being supplied to us.
It could be taught in schools, business and in the community; simple messages that alert people and organisations to the folly of engaging in speculation and what can emanate from it. For example the following questions could be applied to every one of us:
- Is your communication based on known facts?
- What is your real intention in commenting on the issue?
- Does your point of view align with your true values?
- Where do you collect your sources of information and knowledge?
- What is your understanding on the possible misuse of speculation?
- How does your communication on an issue contribute to building a better society?
It would be naive in the extreme to think we can eliminate speculation it has and always will be part of human nature but my belief is that we need to consider this type of modern day challenge and somehow we find a better balance to what is becoming an ever increasing problem. Technology advances will continue; what we have to work out is how we integrate the benefits of such discoveries without destroying the fundamentals of good human interaction.
What I am proposing may seem fanciful to some and it would need a herculean effort before we might see positive results. We cannot ignore such confronting issues if we want to maintain and improve a balanced society.
My final question to readers “What can you do in your sphere of influence to ensure speculation does not totally engulf us”?