The increasing fragmentation of our society is leaving its mark. What are you doing about it?
A social trend has been driven by the Corona pandemic faster than any other:
The growing separation of people into groups or units that experience completely different realities.
Even before Corona, groups on social networks like Facebook or Instagram, or on messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram or Twitter, increased the fragmentation of our society.
Whistleblower Frances Haugen also accuses Facebook of even contributing to wars, such as in Myanmar and currently Ethiopia, by fomenting hatred and conflict.
Formerly community-based sources of information, such as public broadcasters or large private broadcasters, are increasingly being replaced by topic or opinion oriented news groups. The sources of information here are often opaque or irrelevant. Personal statements, opinions, and even lies, are dressed up as “information” or “news.”
Instead of true debates and real discussions with others of different opinions, people post superficial comments and emotional reactions in their “echo chambers.”
Quite deliberately, posts evoke intense emotions: Because polemicizing, lurid and inflammatory statements cause exactly these, the algorithms of social media platforms then ensure their frenzied spread.
Now, we have to add social distancing, home offices and the suffering of the greatest consequences of the pandemic by only some groups and economic sectors:
In particular, residents of nursing homes, single people, those with pre-existing conditions, or those otherwise particularly vulnerable to the virus suffer the greatest isolation at moments when contact with others is most important.
Intensive care and nursing staff are currently quitting in large numbers because they cannot or do not want to endure another “covid winter”. The logistics industry is also facing a second, exhausting holiday season with even more internet purchases than this entire year.
And after a very difficult first half of the year, the tourism, events, hospitality, arts, culture and corporate training industries are headed for another tough lean period until next spring.
The self-employed, micro and small businesses – and generally the most financially vulnerable in our society – continue to suffer massive income losses and threats to their livelihoods.
At the same time, Amazon and other internet shopping platforms, online collaboration tech companies, and healthcare manufacturers in particular are making bigger profits than ever before. Large segments of the workforce work from home, but suffer no financial loss.
The less contact, the less understanding and compassion
There are enough studies to prove that the degree of empathy decreases as the distance to the affected person increases. That is, the less contact we have with those who experience suffering, to whom something is attributed because of their origin, appearance, or the like (immigrants, refugees, women…), the less empathy we have with them. At the same time, we give greater importance to our own problems or perceived limitations: after all, “everyone” around us (i.e. in our “echo chambers”) is experiencing the same thing!
It is time to ask yourself some questions – especially if you are a leader:
How do I separate myself from others: Where do I get my information from, with which people do I exchange opinions or still have discussions?
How do I connect and show empathy: Who can I contact who can’t contact me (anymore) themselves in these circumstances, how do I enliven my relationships with others right now and get involved with them?
What do I do for the people around me – for whom I carry responsibilty: Where do I perceive marginalization and exclusion of individuals or groups? How can I prevent this or establish contact between these groups? How do I enable more understanding and change of perspective between people?
Let’s use the holidays and the cold season to bring more warmth back into our society through concrete actions!