Social Networks: Born from Greek roots of storytelling and socializing

HEART AND SOUL ARE GREECE’S PRIMARY EXPORT: Greece has vast exports of the heart that world citizens desire. There’s nothing new about this AND there’s a whole new generation of Greeks who deserve to experience a return on their culture’s seemingly endless ability to tap soul and human-ness. There’s a tactile aspect to relationship here found nowhere else on the planet. People everywhere want this experience AND want to know how to get it.

THE TIME OF THE GREEK HAS COME ONCE AGAIN: Due to increasing weaving of heart and tech via social networks, the time has never been better for Greek “heart-exporters” to get busy. Walk into a night club in NYC or LA and watch what happens to the crowd when DJ Vassilis Tsillichristos takes control. There is an intuitive understanding within the Greek psyche of interior landscapes and this plays out in Greek music especially. The music effortlessly carries one swiftly to the center of physical sensations related to relationship, self-exploration and identity.

SOCIAL NETWORKS BORN FROM GREEK PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITION: PhD student Theresa Sauter, from the Queensland University of Technology, is examining how social-networking websites help people form their own identity.

“Social-networking sites, blogs, online discussion forums and online journals represent modern arenas for individuals to write themselves into being,” the Courier Mail quotes Sauter as saying.

“A lot of people see social networking as a new way for people to interact but I’m interested in examining it as a way to form an identity and understand ourselves,” she adds.

“The ancient Greek philosophers used a reflective notebook to write down what they had read and their thoughts on it,” she said.

EVIDENCE FOUND IN THE GREEK COFFEE RITUAL:We see in Sauter’s quotes the strength of the Greek identity. Living in Greece, one REALLY experiences that force in real-time. It is a passion for creativity that is shaped by the presence of a harsh critical eye. This typifies the internal Greek landscape, its psychic tension. One part of the Greek psyche acts like a chisel upon marble, carving towards essence. How could an export of Greek sensibility and passion play out?

Here’s just one way: There is an increasing movement via Augmented Reality, Transmedia and the externalizing of social network experience that needs Greek input. As we begin wearing computers, touching QR codes and interacting “in-the-flesh” with social networks, humanity has the potential to extract from imagination a deeper experience via relationship. And Greeks have mastered this. One only need sit at coffee in Greece to know what is meant by this. Every possibility is explored over coffee, every avenue of relationship, every business idea, every position on anything at all. And it is this, this precision of relationship, that Greeks bring to the global human community. If I were to ask someone to lead the branding of external social hardware, I would pick a Greek BECAUSE of the precise and complex social analysis he/she creates.

PRECISION OF RELATIONSHIP IN GREECE: What do I mean by “precision of relationship” in Greek culture? This is related to insight. I’ve learned a lot about insight since spending time in Greece, both in the professional sense and the personal sense. Devin Coldewey writes, “Insight is the result of recombination, hybridizing ideas, internal accidents, emergent properties of ideas we never even knew were related.” To return to Greek “coffee time”, here we experience a seemingly inexhaustible exploration and re-exploration of what was said, who said, when it was said, why it was said, what it could have meant, what should we do about it. And it is in this analysis that one finds laughter, depth, decision. When you look into the eye of a Greek, you really feel like some part inside your chest or brain has been touched by that eye. And whether this is true or not, whether the observer really does “feel” you immediately, is not the point. The point is what YOU feel in that moment. Because Greeks will reflect to you what you are very quickly, if only by staring back at you a few seconds longer than other nationalities.

HOLLOWED BY SORROW, FILLED BY JOY: If externalized social hardware is to lead humanity to some kind of evolutionary step, it will necessarily lead one into depth of experience of others and the world (as digital social networks have done). James Hillman writes, “Until the culture recognizes the legitimacy of growing down, each person in the culture struggles blindly to make sense of the darkness that the soul requires to deepen into life.” It is natural to desire transcendence, to want escape, to experience “another place”. And the pleasures of transcendence are multiplied when one has experienced depth and pain. A cup hollowed by sorrow can hold more joy. No nation has experienced such depth of heartache than Greece, not only because of the nature of its travesties but ALSO because Greeks truly do feel emotion in their bodies with an intensity one has to see to experience. A fight between Greek lovers is truly something to behold!

FROM CITY TO ISLAND: But what really draws one into the Greek experience (and why Greek sensibility ought to have a strong influence upon the externalizing of social networks through social hardware and wearable computers), is the bent towards simplicity. The journey from the endlessly complicated chaos of Athens to a Greek island captures what humans really long for deep down. Cosmologist Brian Swimme captures this journey when he writes, “The fundamental worldview of industrial society is that Earth is like a gravel pit or a lumberyard — just a resource for human use. We live disconnected from the evolving earth community, but our deepest allurement is a rich, intimate participation in the sacred powers of life, of nature, of soul, the ongoing adventure of the Universe and the ways that each one of us can reinvent ourselves.” Tens of thousands of Greeks experience the ritual of departing from an industrial mindset to pure physical and social immersion every August. Our future as a species should be characterized by this type of pilgrimage for it is the healing we need.

SOCIAL GRAPH = ATHENS, INTEREST GRAPH = THE ISLANDS: Externalized social tech at its best will follow Occam’s Razor. Leonardo da Vinci captured the Razor in his own elegant language: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” And few environments could be more simple than a Greek island in the summer. As one of Greece’s greatest writers, Nikos Kazanstakis writes, “How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. . . . All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.” He goes on to write, “You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint the paradise, then in you go.” Think of the social graphs (Facebook) as Athens, many types all melded together. Think of the interest graph (Twitter) as the islands: each island has its purpose. Santorini for lovers, Mykonos for parties, Tinos for Mother Mary, etc.

GREECE IS THE PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE: The immersive quality of social networks matches the immersive experience of Greek culture. If you walk down the street in Athens, in any Greek city, you’ll see how over and over each person IS a kingdom unto themselves, ready at any moment to react or seduce, to envelop you in his/her ethos. A Greek may seem quiet on the surface but I will tell you that below this surface is a great molten center ready at any time to burst forth. And in this fire there exists the same Promethean tendency to distribute the magic of the gods to one’s parea, one’s tribe. The magic of the parea is the at the center of Greek culture. This subjective nature of the parea and its interests is captured in The Art of Immersion by Frank Rose:

“That was then. In the months and years ahead, professional storytellers of every persuasion—people in movies, in television, in video games, and in marketing—will need to function in a world in which distinctions that were clear throughout the past century are becoming increasingly blurred:

The blurring of author and audience: Whose story is it?
The blurring of story and game: How do you engage with it?
The blurring of entertainment and marketing: What function does it serve?
The blurring of fiction and reality: Where does one end and the other begin?”

THE PAREA: In a country like Greece, influence and connection is of particular importance to success and career momentum. The Greek is a FANTASTIC mix of being a very social animal AND being very private about matters to do with money and ownership. And that ‘s a nice mixture! But the social side seems to always win in the end and that’s a very important factor in understanding Facebook’s acceleration in the Greek social eco-system. Through Facebook, one may discover the tribe, the lover, and the career best suited to one’s interests: in short, Facebook is the ultimate digital Parea-producing engine.

As I understand it, a Parea in Greek culture is a circle of friends who gather and share their stories about life, their philosophies, values and ideas. The Parea is a venue for the growth of the human spirit, the development of friendship and the exploration of philosophies to enrich one’s quality of life that is all too brief in time. In Greece, the Parea is a long-lasting circle and cycle of life nourished by its members. And that’s exactly what social networks are engendering in the human family: a finely woven fabric of connection and communication resulting in unlimited new possibility found first internally, in the psyche, and then actuated externally.


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