I.5.5 The Emergence of Collective Consciousness

We all like to be with people like us – and the same is true of members of other species, just look at how birds, sheep, or fish strive to be with their flock, not to speak of social insects such as bees or ants. One of the main reasons why we want to be with similar people is that it is much easier to communicate if we share language, values and context. Sociologist Emile Durkheim called this shared understanding of social norms “collective consciousness”. The more similar other people are to me, the more I like them. If I stay together with somebody I like, spending a lot of time together, we tend to get more and more similar and will get more and more aligned in our language, values, and moral norms. In prehistoric times millions to hundred thousand of years ago this “getting more similar” happened through shared genes. Our ancestors Homo sapiens incorporated the genes of Neanderthals by interbreeding, thus also inheriting some of their personality characteristics, which according to research, show more aggressive personalities quite different from the friendlier self-domesticated personalities of homo sapiens. Once human language was invented, people got a powerful tool to develop collective consciousness faster by talking about it and gossiping about other people. With the invention of writing which appeared first 3400BC in Mesopotamia and shortly thereafter in Egypt, people got more persistent and transportable ways of sharing their values and culture. The invention of printing, which 200 AD emerged as woodblock printing in China, gave larger and larger groups of people the opportunity to develop collective consciousness by disseminating their values in printing more widely. The invention of the telegraph and the phone made instantaneous sharing of new memes and cultural development on a global scale possible, enabling large groups of people anywhere on Earth to rapidly develop collective consciousness. Today, the Internet and the smartphone allow us to instantaneously connect on an intimate level with anybody anywhere on the world, sharing ideas and emotions through video chat, Twitter, and WhatsApp or WeChat messages. We can reach a single person, or a carefully selected subgroup sharing our interests and likes with the click of one Twitter, WhatsApp subgroup, and WeChat group button.

A group of people that has developed collective consciousness will be able to communicate much more effectively, sometimes even without words. More frequently, code words like “Maga”, short for #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, and “sacred” signs and gestures will convey meaning and tell the group what to do and how to act to reach their shared goals. Once the group operates on this level of collective consciousness, it is “entangled”. There is also a second key ingredient besides consciousness which is necessary for successful entanglement of a team, namely shared or collective energy. 


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