I use a little web service called POPURLS that brings the top postings of all the major social bookmarking lists together on one page. It's been useful for me because in a few minutes each morning I can see the top 100 posts from del.icio.us, Reddit, Netscape, Google News etc. and bookmark whatever I find interesting. It's sort of a single RSS feed to what the whole world finds interesting.
But I've started to notice that virtually everything that's 'hot' seems superficial, disconnected from reality or staring up our own bum at our own technology. How do these messages help people? How does this message enlighten us? Where have all the crazy ones gone? We seem to be drowning in too much information but still left thirsty for big ideas.
There's stacks of stuff about new web 2.0 tools, the latest technology tips or better ways to be more productive. But what are the tools, the technology and the increased productivity for? If technology empowers people where are all the brilliant ideas? If Gandhi, Shakespeare, King or Socrates had a blog, can you imagine the power of their message today?
But then again, maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. What's popular can be a million miles away from what's true (if you've ever read the British tabloid press you'll know what I mean). Maybe the era of the in-your-face iconic leaders is all but over. Maybe we don't need them any more. Maybe the next Buddha to appear will be the awakening of the Buddha within us all.
This idea certainly fits with what I see happening just below the surface of 'popular' media awareness. Hearts are opening right across the world and people are reclaiming their real identity, their brilliant authentic Self. More and more there are those who are coming to realise that the way out of darkness is not to rile against it, or try to fix problems on the level they were created, but to have the courage to be one who lights a candle. That's what true leadership is all about, isn't it - lighting candles. And we all have the ability to do that, don't we?
We seem to be moving towards the tipping point of a massive shift in our awareness of who we are and what life is, a quantum leap in knowing the nature of this life force that animates the whole show - a 'whole new mind' so to speak. This movement is subtle and low key but definitely there, and seems to spread by osmosis rather than enlistment.
We search for meaning but never really find it in the parts, only in allowing whole-ness to emerge - not in a list of del.icio.us tags or Twitter messages, but in the connections we make and what we share, discover and foster there. The new tools allow us to do this much more easily, but it's so easy to forget that the tools, no matter how wonderful, are still tools - a means and not an end.
So how do we use technology to serve our greatest needs? We probably have to find that out for ourselves but I believe the discovery starts with a willingness to serve. Martin Luther King eluded to this-
You want to be important? Wonderful. You want to be recognized? Wonderful. You want to be great? Wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. By giving that definition of greatness it means everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” to serve. You don’t have to know the Second Theory of Thermal Dynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, and you can be that servant.”
I know that when I imagine my purpose here is just my own happiness, then life becomes a cruel and senseless thing. But what my heart leads me to know is that meaning is found in serving the force that brought us into this world. When I remember this then life becomes a joy... and everything starts to make perfect sense. This is all the meaning I need.
.. Do you remember the scene in the film 'When Harry met Sally' where Meg Ryan had just faked an orgasm in the cafe? When the waitress asked the lady at the next table what she wanted to order she looked at Meg Ryan and said, "I'll have what she's having". Well, it seems to be spreading like that.