Individualism is a modern phenomena, the concept can only find expression in a circumstance where society is big enough, easy enough and people are isolated enough to be able to survive absent a tribe. Individualism is constantly corrupted by the collective and the massive mass media narrative that is at play now in the world. Individualism is in large measure a spawn of the United States, an order, which aspires to deliver personal choice – the first of its kind in history. I love individualism as it merges with democracy and common law, because, at once, people act with autonomy and it is required that they respond to the interests of others; this is a beautiful thing.
It seems that when you get more than a couple of people acting together, autonomy gets challenged, especially in modern society, where groups tend to coalesce around a “special interest”. “Special Interests” are okay, what is unacceptable however, is the way in which the actions of people associated with a special interest tend to become associated with “left” or “right” or one political brand or another. At the very moment an issue becomes attached to a political a brand, it gets distorted, because politics are about power first and policy second. Given that in a democracy to forward an idea, one needs political mass (power), acquiring political mass requires accommodating large numbers of people and in the accommodation of large numbers of people, distortions occur. It is optimum to seek solutions to issues rather than distort issues to suite power, which rarely happens. By nurturing the Individual, by creating self-supporting, self-sufficient, independent people we begin to fracture “the group” and / or “group think”. This is a healthy thing, as it permits people to bring a critical mind to challenges.
Individualism in the modern context of social media, has “individualism” in effect being a branding exercise, one hopes that the broad based ability to “mediafy” one’s self begins to fracture the narrative – under the “post WW2” mass media regime we were slotted into a bi-polar, tri-polar – or a limited polled political space and then slotted into one of about 6 or 7 stereotypes. The old media space held control over the populace’s thought under a narrow spectrum of competition; the modern individual is able to draw on, and build the “individual” from a broader spectrum in the social media space; allowing for a nuanced projection of self and a general societal circumstance of a more nuanced perception of others. Further, the coalescence of micro-topics or interests “on the tail” brings oddities into the mainstream as they gain resolution in a manner that would have never occurred in the past, generating a circumstance where “individuals’” emerge in a more varied and nuanced way. This is beautiful thing as well, it is being challenged by the increasing regulation of the internet space – governments are seeking to once again restrict and control the data that feeds the narrative – as, where the narrative goes society goes. This is the paradox, the boarder and more varied the data field, the boarder and more varied the individual becomes; this well-spring nearly always brings disruption, and disruption scares the established and the established seek to suppress disruption - yet we need disruption to advance.
We must seek to enhance the individual, to foster diversity; individuals are rarely birthed in large monolithic institutions, in fact, large monolithic institutions are hostile to the individual. Institutions “haze” individuals out of existence or the bell curve does, and forces them to fit the mold, rather than liberate them from the mold. Every individual is a point of emergence, we can smother that emergence with dogma, conformity, thereby, retaining “norms” & “stability” OR we can seek at every opportunity to feed the creation of individuals that emerge un-subdued by the “old”, and embrace the disruption that they bring us.