by John Borst, PP Rotary Club of Dryden, ON
In an article by Atlantic Re: Think for Hewlett Packard Enterprise titled “Ask the Futurists: 10 Bold Predictions for 2030” number nine is worth considering.
In part it states:
Humans will be able to do more good
Life will be less about stuff, even though all of your stuff will be constantly talking to all of the other stuff. People will be living longer—perhaps, according to some surveyed, 150 or 200 years—and spending more of their newfound free time helping others, Bishop said. “I think we’re going to see increased leisure time, but it’ll allow for the addressing of more global problems as global awareness increases,” he said. “With the tremendous value and wealth created by these companies, we’re going to see Gen-Z even more focused on the common good and corporate sustainability.”
Now, I’m old enough to remember when microcomputers first came on the scene and it was all the rage to predict a society of more leisure. Instead, we now have the tyranny of
the smartphone or tablet chasing us with work 24/7. The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World. Read the data in the preceding article by G.E. Miller at 20 Something Finance and you may appreciate why Rotary has found it increasingly difficult to recruit Gen X, Y, and the Millennials.
Note too, the reference is to Gen-Z or Post-Millennials or the IGeneration, that is, those born since 2005. They now make up 25% of the US population and will be one-third by 2020. Will Rotary be in a position to capture this demographic between 2020 and 2030?
If our General Secretary John Hewko has his way we will. In an article published Dec 5, 2016, at the World Economic Forum titled “Technology is making us feel more alone. Is a return to volunteerism the answer?” .
Hewko describes how The Fourth Industrial Revolution is “shaping an age of civic disengagement”. He shares the work of “two psychologists in a Public Library of Science journal who proposed that ‘the more someone uses a smartphone for information, the less likely they are to trust neighbours, strangers, and people from other religions or nationalities.’” Against this Hewko postulates that “One possible cure is a return to the original social networks supplanted by smartphones – volunteer organizations.” He believes “volunteer groups can provide a buffer to this corrosion of civic life…” and be “reflected in the paradigm shift taking place in attitudes to philanthropy”…where “the new gold standard is to build social good into your business model…”
Three advantages are described by Hewko for volunteer organizations in the next decade. They can build on the “weak bonds” within society; exert a “positive impact of re-engaging in civic life through social impact groups” and be “a bulwark against civic apathy and social isolation”.
Hewko returns to the issue of loneliness in a digitally connected world and concludes with the statement that “…perhaps (the) most important value of volunteer organizations comes into play – put simply, they’re good for you.”
And on that note, I want to close by sharing a short anecdote from my own life to prove Hewko’s point.
My wife Suzanne and I actively joined the Rotary Club of Dryden in the first month of 2010. I was 70 and she was 68. In the summer of 2011, she passed away. To put it starkly, social media did nothing for my loneliness. My fellow Rotarians, however, if only for a couple hours each week provided one of those “weak bonds” which meant so much to me. And for that, I will be forever grateful.