During a recent project at work, I learned about The Black Swan Theory.  Basically, it’s the idea (and this is my generic summation) that a major event is so obvious in hindsight, it should have been expected.  A Black Swan is defined as a cumulation of these three factors:

  1. It’s a surprise (to the observer)
  2. It has a major impact.
  3. In hindsight, it’s so obvious it should have been predicted.

Think 9/11…or the current ebook revolution/extinction of paper books.

As I thought about a sequence of major events (the internet, ebooks, Occupy Wall St., the downfall of the SOPA/PIPA acts, and this recent reversal of the Komen foundation’s support of Planned Parenthood) I started wondering about the next Black Swan.

The internet has changed the way we think, the way we interact, the way we learn:

  • Kids can now search youtube to find a video on calculus that makes sense to them if they’re not getting a delivery method from their teacher that works.
  • An earthquake is tweeted before the news can report it.  (100% of our real-time first-person news can come from individuals experiencing events vs. what makes good ratings on TV)
  • As individuals, we’re no longer subject to gatekeepers who can filter our voices….EVERYONE has a platform.
  • The phenomenal growth of Pinterest indicates (to me) how badly we want to share beautiful knowledge — photos, inspiration, attaboys, DIY projects–as a community. (something we’ve lacked here in the US for at least a hundred years)

So what IS the next Black Swan?

Obviously, it’s not possible to predict a Black Swan, the point is merely to account for the potential risk….but I have a thought (maybe it’s a dream).

I personally weigh everything I put on the internet, anticipate the impact–both today and in the future.  I do that because everyone is watching…and not in a Big Brother way…but with the expectation that I will be kind, and honest, and all those things mother taught me to be (If you can’t say anything nice…) because if I’m not, the world is ready to vomit their opinion all over my blog, twitter, the universe in opposition.

Based on some of the recent backlashes out there…(here’s the Black Swan) I think companies/individuals/governments will begin to do the same because now they’re realizing the world is watching, and will not stand by to allow the mistreatment of anything.  Authenticity is being rewarded, and if the expectation is shifting that people will behave in a more authentic manner, everything begins to shift…the bubble of anticipation becomes less, I’m-holding-a-rotten-tomato-and-will-fling-it-in-your-face-if-you-say-something-I-don’t-like and more, leaning-forward-in-my-chair-lights-dimmed-award-winning-show-is-about-to-start.

If people know they’re walking onto a stage with an audience of millions, and each member of the audience spent millions per ticket (because isn’t that what our time is worth?) to come see the show, they will pause at the edge of the curtain, take a deep breath and seek that honest, authentic (vulnerable) space and speak/act from a place of love, instead of a place of fear.  (even companies have love/fear relationships—love of money/fear of losses)
Which doesn’t mean we’ll all agree, and sing kumbaya, and dance about.  But if you come to me and voice your opinion and thoughts from an authentic space, I don’t feel like I’m under attack, I don’t start on a defensive note, I’m willing to listen, I’m willing to hear you, I’m willing to see your side.
….and isn’t that what we’ve always wanted?  To be heard?
What would that impact look like??



Image: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net