Recently, I was asked to create a presentation for ASA-Texas, an Automotive Service Association affiliate. I was allowed to choose the subject, and I decided upon “Involvement and Commitment: Risks and Rewards.” The work that followed focused on the dramatic impact changes in our culture have had on our institutions and associations; and, how these institutions and associations were going to have to adjust in order to survive.
The premise was simple: With more people doing more things than ever before, why is it that fewer and fewer people are willing to do those things within the context of a group? Or, as Robert Putnam asked in Bowling Alone, why is it that with more people bowling, there are fewer leagues and less league play?
There are lots of answers. But, it would be safe to say that a lot of it has to do with the pressures we seem all too willing to subject ourselves to: pressures socially, culturally and financially; pressures both real and imagined.
More people are more connected than at any other time in the history of the world, and yet those connections seem superficial at best. We text and we tweet, we share the most intimate and trivial details of our lives with anyone who will listen, but do we actually touch one another?
We are connected without the connection.
I didn’t have to look much farther than my own life to find suitable examples of this phenomenon. I “belong” to more than one association. I’m involved in a number of other groups as well. Some are social. Some are professional. Each has its own agenda and demands.