I often think about how famous artists from the sixties used to talk of the collective soul of humanity. How we are “one unified consciousness, a cosmic hive mind living out one life with the illusion of separate bodies.” I’ve always liked that mindset, seeing as how that mode of thinking renders most forms of human stupidity moot. Still, it’s often quite difficult to bring oneself to believe in such a cosmic structuring when the proof of separation is all around us. It’s almost impossible to find one person who believes in one thing in common with you, let alone with all of humanity. However, something came to me tonight that had me thinking along similar lines as the hippies artists of yesteryear.
The thing that made me think this was Twitter.
Yes, little wonderful Twitter. The joy of the internet seeker, and the bane of dictators everywhere. Here was the line of thought that entered my mind:
1) In a collective consciousness, the mechanisms of an individual’s brain would most likely mimic that of any resultant collective entity. Simply put, a collective mind would function in a similar fashion as our individual minds do.
2) If the above thought were true, then there would have to be some sort of mechanism whereby all thoughts of this hive-mind would be accesible by each member of the hive. Much like as in individual, where all their thoughts, to some degree, are public to him or her.
3) All thoughts would be public, and the only reason one “collective thought” would be more visible relative to another would be relevancy and democratic agreement, stemming from the volume of like-minded thoughts.
4) This “rising to the top” of particular thoughts greatly mimics the synaptic process of memory retrieval, at least from my limited personal experience, and the relative separation of the mind into consciousness, sub-conscious, and super-conscious regions.
5) There would need to be a collective focus point for all the individual minds to coalesce into a collective consciousness. Sounds a lot like the internet to me. Only problem with the internet is that not all aspects of it are public. If only there were something that let people share their thoughts in real-time, and all those thoughts were in the public domain. Sounds a lot to me like….
A large stretch, perhaps, but hear me out. Imagine if everyone on earth had a Twitter, and that everyone tweeted their every waking thought. A terrifying concept, I know, but imagine if all those thoughts could be aggregated, indexed, and their true meaning matched with like-minded tweets in real time. Then imagine that each individual could view and access this “collective discourse”. Millions of thoughts would interconnect like synapses and create “meta-thoughts” based on the collective meaning derived from the indexed thoughts. Ideas would appear out of the ocean of data in the same way that thoughts appear to our conscious minds. People would realize that their thoughts combined to create the collective thoughts of a greater being, and would start to see the great connecting factors that lie dormant within all our minds. I think it would be one of the most fascinating and potentially beautiful things imaginable.
The truly beautiful moment would come when individuals begin speculating about the potential to change these meta-thoughts. Enough people would begin to think the same thing, that the collective consciousness itself would question the possibility of self-alteration. Self-reflective meta-consciousness would be born, and who knows the wonders that something of that magnitude could create. Twitter would become the voice of the collective soul of humanity.
I hope I can live to see something like that happen. It would be the most incredible thing imaginable.
Please voice your opinions on this idea. I’d love to know what others think about social media’s potential to bring humanity closer together.
Mr. David Benson is a social media analyst and coffeephile. He currently lives in New York City and works as an analyst for Mashwork, a social media analytics company.