Parade Guy


4th of July Parade Seeks Cure for Digital Dystopia

Hello Parade Fans,

The Parade Guy has been thinking about the role of Internet technology in peoples’ lives lately.  Recently, a lot’s been written about data privacy concerns (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg and the European Union), cyber bullying (thanks, Melania) and a Lamorinda favorite, technology-driven dehumanization (thanks, Millennials).  As Technology Dystopia approaches (or not), a thoughtful reader thinks about what the Orinda 4th of July Parade Committee can do to help. Right?

Fear not says a recent study of 1,150 tech culture experts published by the Pew Research Center. This report asserts that 47 percent of respondents predicted that “individuals’ well-being will be helped more than harmed by digital life in the next decade.”  Yet, nearly a third of respondents feel the reverse will occur in the next 10 years. It appears those smart folks in Pew’s study can’t agree about the tech effect on humanity’s future well-being.

The conclusion that found almost universal agreement among survey respondents holds that the Internet is a fantastic connection tool. Humans value connectedness, a feeling of belonging, security and inclusion in a community.  Daniel Weitzner, principal research scientist and founding director of MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative, explains, “Human beings want and need connection, and the Internet is the ultimate connection machine.” But can the Internet replace physical world, face-to-face, neighbor-to-neighbor connections?  

This is where a recent editorial by David Brooks at the New York Times has something to say.  Brooks’ dedicated his opinion column on May 7, 2018 to the phenomenal achievements of one Stewart Brand (a Bay Area resident).  Brand was an independent soul and a creative genius, described in a newly published biography as a “cultural architect.” A pioneer in Silicon Valley, Brand is also a lover of the sensation of wholeness, belonging and authenticity.  He espoused his blend of technology, culture and community and successfully did so through festivals, conferences and local

That concept inspired the Parade Guy.  People are complex, and the impact of technology is different for everyone.  Many of us use technology to promote our own connectedness, but as we know, often the reverse occurs. Either way, we all crave a sense of belonging, of connectedness to our community and to one another.  

That’s where the 4th of July Parade comes in.  When it comes to getting people together out of doors in this idyllic region of ours, the Parade is the “ultimate connection machine.”   The Parade Guy guarantees (and I’m sure Stewart Brand would agree) you will feel like you belong to the Lamorinda community more than ever as you share the experience with friends, family and neighbors at this year’s Best Hometown Parade.  

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