More unequal societies face greater depression and crime rates in general. We see a number of studies and examples that explore this aspect of our societies. The reasons vary but the general axiom for communities reducing the disparities to foster more harmonies societies remains. From lower life satisfaction and higher rates of depression to less trust for neighbors who flaunt their success during our times of struggle, the effects of inequality are far reaching in how we move through our neighborhoods. The crime rates have been falling in general as technology has increased the scope of what can be seen and the infrastructure for reporting situations and disruptions. The root problem remains but the focus shifts from the inequality to maintaining order and verifying the paths approved for rising within society. The mental health and escapism nature has been rising as a result of these unaddressed aspects of our social health. How we connect to our neighbors is key to our growth, stability, and mental health.
Several groups and technologies today focus on helping us find the ways to get resources in shared community spaces to spark conversation and connection. The route this takes has often been in coops creating spaces for local members of the community to check in with each other and build shared understanding. Another more recent version has been companies that allow people to share their culture as an experience for visitors, often people from far away places looking for unique authentic experiences. There are services that do this with lodging - AirBnb, food - Mealsharing, cars - Turo, and a number of other kinds of services we seek daily and especially when travelling. What has been changing is the way we interact with these platforms and services that can often stretch our perception of how these services relate to our communities. Ownership is often in the hands of a few people outside the direct community and the benefits can seem to focus outside of the communities in question or at least more than with co-ops. The technical demands and the financial models needed to support these kinds of systems can differ greatly. How we see the systems that provide these services is also key to their success from an adoption and growth perspective.
When we try to connect as the rifts between communities deepen it feels as though we are going uphill during a mudslide. It is key how we approach figuring out how to change the way people see those that have all the things that some have to work harder for to just get to the starting line. Also key is how we bridge the understanding after a breech of social trust has taken place. Separate from the circumstances that precipitated the need for action is how society comes back together afterwards.
When we fail to see ourselves in those around us is when distance grows and inaction becomes easy. Tupac put it well with a comparison to a hotel flaunting food with little regard for those on the outside:
"If I know that in this hotel room they have food every day, and I’m knocking on the door every day to eat and they open the door, let me see the party, let me see them throwing salami all over; I mean, just throwing food around [and] they're telling me there’s no food. Every day, I'm standing outside trying to sing my way in: "We are hungry, please let us in. We are hungry, please let us in." After about a week that song is gonna change to, "We hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks, it’s like, "Give me the food or I’m breaking down the door." After a year you’re just like, "I’m picking the lock, coming through the door blasting!" It’s like, you hungry, you reached your level. We asked ten years ago. We was asking with the [Black] Panthers. We was asking with the Civil Rights Movement. We was asking. Those people that asked are dead and in jail. So now what do you think we’re gonna do? Ask?"
This distance is deep and lasting. The borders that form in our minds from lifestyles experienced in segregated communities can be hard to deconstruct and overcome. When we see no way of preserving the self we are in those moments of pain and struggle our growth is towards callous action. When systems force you into these kinds of actions the route back to sustainability within it is even less clear.
There is so much that is possible with AI and experiencing things from the perspective of others. We can be anything by extending what we already know. We are actually able to walk that mile in the shoes of another. Who we are can change in many ways from that journey. More importantly, we do not have to walk that path alone. What kind of self becomes possible when we see how others struggle and deeply understand the emotions that built up to crucial moments in their lives? How would criminal justice change with a deeper understanding between defendant and plaintiff, and in certain cases jurors. A system of exposing both parties to the experiences or similar versions of their backgrounds could allow us to take the focus off of the property or the things being sought and work towards building those bridges that barred the communication necessary to make that social and individual progress.
This process would be clear for civil disagreements but harder for longer term and larger scale issues. An extension might be the sum of the emotions and approaches of the people working within a company when these kinds of situations arise but those growth modes would likely take much more to coordinate and bring together. Also, the trend of fines becoming a cost of business for repeat offenders seems to point to a lack of growth in approach from the people that need it most within the companies in question. How would a shared experience look between companies and communities working their issues and disagreements out?
Recent works have explored the connection between the self and our memories. In recent works generally, more focus has been around the technology changing how our society operates. The shortcomings of ego with technological progress alone would need to be aided by emotional, moral, and sage safeguards that fortify trust in the larger systems even in the smaller cases. The many often impose on the few but systems that better understand where the distance rests, carry forward the lessons from the past, and bring us together in more considerate and authentic ways will allow us to chart an even brighter path forward.