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Monthly motivation: Megatrend emotional connectivity

Monthly motivation: Megatrend emotional connectivity
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Many of us are feeling increasingly overwhelmed again these days. The world was already complex before the global pandemic – since then, we have been experiencing an increased level of chaos around us for some time. In this issue of the monthly motivation, the philosopher and author Jörg Bernardy investigates the symptoms of a new "BANI" world and explains why more emotional connectivity is needed right now.

A new mindset for communication in the BANI world

In April 2019, I wrote something here about the triumph of the emotions in the VUCA world and the megatrend of ‘ emotional intelligence’ (the text is in German). That was before corona, and since that time a new paradigm seems to have been emerging. Don't be alarmed, our world is still volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – an idea that has been around since the 1980s and that contains important safeguards for today’s digital society –, but we are now expanding this with a concept known as BANI, which stands for these four characteristics:

  1. B:rittle,
  2. A:nxious,
  3. N:on-linear and
  4. I:ncomprehensible.

Exponential growth is non-linear and incomprehensible

The extent to which BANI will actually prevail long term as a sensemaking model for futurology remains to seen. Nevertheless, the concept forms a response of sorts to the mounting chaos and ever-increasing complexity that has been burdening us since the outbreak of the global pandemic – whether it is unprecedented fissures in society, worrying developments in our political systems, unpredictable climate catastrophes or the considerable consequences of our changing and fragile means of communication.

Ecological and technological tipping points as black swans

We do not know what the next black swan will consist of, but we can be assured that it will occur. After all one of the key insights in the BANI world is that a brittle and fragile system can continue to make a strong and healthy impression even when it is dangerously instable and about to collapse. Exponential growth is a case in point: non-linear and incomprehensible, it is a phenomenon that defies human imagination. And likewise we are incapable of realistically imagining what will happen when certain ecological tipping points are reached, such as the complete cessation of the Gulf Stream or a global rise in ocean temperatures.

The same holds true for technological tipping points. We can only oscillate between utopian and dystopian images, whether we think of the moment of the ‘singularity’ – the moment when artificial intelligence reaches autonomy and takes control –, or a purely virtual world in which humans actually live together. It is against this background that Mark Zuckerberg recently presented his ideas for the new ‘metaverse’, which is to replace and in many ways surpass Facebook.

In addition to the megatrends of digitalisation, AI, individualisation, health and ‘new work’, I want to focus on one megatrend in particular that in many respects will prove decisive in the future: that of emotional connectedness and the connection with others. In this respect, futurologists and trend researchers also speak of the megatrend ‘connectivity’ – but what does future connectivity look like in a chaotic BANI world?

The network society is an emotional society

To be honest, we really don't know. But we’re in urgent need of a new emotional mindset for dealing with non-linear, fragile and incomprehensible connectivity in a chaotic world. Integrative communication and emotional connection are indispensable skills in a world where fear and chaos are growing exponentially. ‘New work’ and ‘new leadership’ are first and foremost symptoms of and tools towards a greater future that we simply cannot imagine at this juncture.

Naturally, the current developments can trigger fear, anxiety, despair and anger in us. But these emotions do not only bring us into direct contact with ourselves, they also initiate the great collective and emotional growth curve that will catapult us from our fragile present into the non-linear and incomprehensible future, or better said, beam us into the emotional connectivity of the future. Try it today rather than tomorrow.

‘It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.’ (Leon C. Megginson)

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