Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges The Shattered Tin Man Midst the Shock and Awe in Mid-21st Century Societies I: Shattering and Shock

The Shattered Tin Man Midst the Shock and Awe in Mid-21st Century Societies I: Shattering and Shock

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The tenth shard is concerned with the folks who tend to focus their attention on one thing—be it the field in which they work or the avocation in which they are fully absorbed. Those people in this group are called Niche-ers by Vandehei. These folks tend to be highly-educated, middle-class and both male and female. Vandehei suggests that this is often a subset of elites—and like the elites, the Niche-ers are Internet-wizards. According to Vandehei, these folks exploit the abundance of high-quality, in-the-weeds news on the Internet. The internet is Nirvana if they are seeking out a new job or a new pub to visit. The internet is also critical if the Niche-er is living in a country (such as the USA) that is far away from their homeland. Very few choices are made without first looking at their computer—or more often nowadays the mobile device that carry with them all the time. For these men and women of foreign origins, the Internet is often their primary pathway back to their family and other loved ones.

Vandehei’s eleventh shard consisted of people from the emerging majority. These are upwardly mobile, college-educated Latinos and Black Americans. I would add other members of 21st Century societies who are marginalized—such as members of LGBQ+ communities. As Vandehei notes, members of this shard often no longer have specialized printed publications to read. Sometime, they’ve turned their attention to trusted journalists in mainstream to make sense of the world—and these trusted sources are often found on specialized Internet sources. Understandable, there often is a lack of trust in many traditional mainstream sources (such as are found on TV and cable news stations). Furthermore, the kind of information which these marginalized and expanding groups request are only found in specialized (niche) Internet sources. Where do I find a Gay bar in this city? What is the employment record for minorities in this corporation?

Finally, there is the shard that is actually a shard-by-default when it comes to Vandehei’s media preferences. These are the people whom Vandehei labels the Passive-ists. Vandehei notes that on most days, this might be the biggest group. If shared characteristics are chosen which relates to matters other than media preferences, then there might be many more distinctive splinter groups to identify that make up the highly diverse population of mid-21st Century American society. Vandehei suggests that members of the default shard are primarily those people who are either too busy or too disinterested in news to hunt for it. Vanderhei notes that these folks may bump into the news, often accidentally, as they chat or buy things — or scroll through fun stuff.

I would add to what Vandehei has suggested about this final group. It may often be a more assertive antipathy to the news that keeps members of this passive-ist group away from any TV, Cable, Internet or Social Media venues that provide news. They are either “sick” of the news, don’t trust anyone offering “unbiased” reports, or simply believe that they have no power or influence regarding what is happening in the world. To listen to the news is to confront one’s powerlessness—and a sense of powerlessness and attendant hopelessness have been found to be a major source of anxiety, depression and poor health (Seligman, 1992).

The splintering of realities in the formation of 21st Century American societal shards produce the VUCA-Plus conditions. There is greater volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, turbulence and contradiction precisely because Americans in various subgroups view reality in quite different ways. Furthermore, reality in each of the twelve shards is supercharged precisely because those dwelling in this shard must somehow hold their worldview together in the midst of the splintering effects of VUCA-Plus. It is a very challenging interdependence between the 12 shards and VUCA-Plus—and a very challenging world in which our previous residents of Oz must dwell.

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