Are You A Pilgrim?

by Jay Deragon on 11/27/2008

Imagine being one of the Pilgrims that arrived in America for the first time. Not knowing anything about the land they spent decades discovering the vastness of American, the richness of its resources and the diversity of its geography. Sounds a lot like the net generation discovering the breadth and depth of social technologies in a new world where everyone is connected.

The Pilgrims were English people who sought to escape the religious controversies and economic problems of their time by emigrating to America. Many of the Pilgrims were members of a Puritan sect known as Separatists. They believed that membership in the Church of England violated the biblical precepts for true Christians, and that they had to break away and form independent congregations which were truer to divine requirements. At a time when Church and State were one, such an act was treasonous and the Separatists had to flee their mother country. A lot like users of social technology looking for better ways to do thinks and innovative thinking that goes against traditional business and social models.

As English people, the Pilgrims also shared a vital secular culture, both learned and traditional. They lived in a time which accepted fairies and witches, herbal remedies and astrological virtues, seasonal festivals and folklore as real parts of their lives. They looked at the world they lived in not as we do today, through the eyes of media, but through the folklore of the countryside and academic traditions that stretched back to antiquity. They were both the thorough Protestants of the recent Reformation and the inheritors of the Medieval world picture that infused the imaginations of Shakespeare and Jonson.

They brought with them familiar customs, among which were an autumn secular harvest celebration and a Puritan religious Thanksgiving holy day. Today we bring with us our imaginations of what can be done and what should be done to revolutionize life as we know it using social technologies. We bring familiar customs as it relates to simply conversing, brainstorming and sharing information, one to one to millions.

Like the pilgrims we don’t know how far the “social landscape” will stretch nor do we know what we will discover along the way. However the uncertainty breeds creativity and innovation required to make progress on the road to discovery just like the pilgrims did.

While they were thankful that they had arrived in their journey, as history shows, the journey had just begun. Again not unlike all of us who think we have arrived and yet we discover new things about a connected world and hopefully things about ourselves along the way.

The pilgrims relied on each other in order to build their communities. We rely on each other to build our virtual communities and discover ways to make our lives better along the way.

Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

What say you?

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