If You’re Reading This, You’re Part of the Connected Class
Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.
You are one of three billion privileged people on this planet who are part of an emerging class system. Globally, more and more individuals continue to join.
I grew up in the UK. We had a class system. I never fully understood how it worked, but it existed and I guess it still does. It’s more fragmented today, and frankly, people are oblivious to its significance, but nevertheless, it’s there, omnipresent and overshadowing.
I don’t like class systems. I don’t like how they are used to define people. I dislike any system that requires me to put someone in a box and then judge them accordingly. I don’t care where you grew up, or where you went to school, or how wealthy your parents were. I only care about what you do. Not who you work for, but what you do; the contribution you’re making to society and whether that contribution is a positive one. It matters to me that you’re self aware enough to understand that what you contribute, no matter how small, matters.
It’s ironic then, that I am writing an article to introduce you to a new category of class, one which I believe has the potential to rise above all other classes and lead us to a better future. As I said, I don’t like class systems, except this one.
This new category of class is defined by the potential to give people the capacity to contribute to society in ways we cannot even comprehend. It has nothing to do with capital, or natural resources, or geography or even whether you’re living in a stable, economic and political environment. This class enables people to transcend all of this, and I’m calling it “The Connected Class”.
Today, “The Connected Class” represents about 40% of the world’s population. There are about three billion of these connected individuals globally. We have access, we are connected, and we are digitally literate. “The Connected Class” is more likely to be economically and socially prosperous because there are new opportunities online. “The Connected Class” will increase from three billion people today, to six billion by 2022, representing over 75% of the global population.
“The Connected Class” will likely be a leading force of growth in the global economy. Individuals in “The Connected Class” will create more jobs, are more likely to graduate from high school and college and will live longer than those who are not part of this system.
Let’s look at the three qualifications of “The Connected Class” more closely:
Whether it’s through a fiber network, 2G, 3G or 4G or a comprehensive WiFi network, combined with affordable data and broadband plans, access is about having the infrastructure to support entire communities regardless of where they are located.
Connectivity relates to individuals with access to the devices and software applications that enable them to connect with others, and establish profiles on the leading social networking platforms, websites and mobile services. These services offer a range of connection possibilities, whether it’s human to human, or human to device.
This does not refer to reading, writing and arithmetic. I mean digital literacy. Having the comprehension, understanding and fluency to use the tools that allow us to utilize websites, download mobile apps and stream video. The key here is that someone without reading and writing skills can become “digitally literate” and still be successful connecting and communicating with others using mobile technology.
THE RISE OF THE CONNECTED CLASS
Identifying our new class is simply an attempt at highlighting one very important fact: If you are part of “The Connected Class”, you are significantly more privileged with access to more opportunities than those not a part of it. You are disadvantaged if you do not have the access, connection, and digital literacy to use tools and technologies that are available to so many others. This means you are lacking some of the basic human rights afforded to the rest of the world. If education, access to affordable health care, food, and water are considered to be rights, then why not access and connectivity?
In less than ten years, three billion additional connected citizens will join us online. If we can provide resources that enable individuals to join “The Connected Class,” they will be more likely to educate themselves, connect with the world, access information and services, and form deeper relationships both online and offline.
THE FUTURE CONNECTED CLASS
It’s conceivable that the majority of the world’s population will eventually be part of “The Connected Class”. How will this ubiquitous connectivity — the total interconnection of people, ideas, and products through a global digital network — change our world and allow everyone to achieve more? In what ways will connectivity empower citizens to take control of their own lives, health, education, and work? When everyone in the world is connected, what are the possibilities for bringing ideas to life, and creatively collaborating with people around the globe, regardless of geography, culture, and language?
After reading this, I want you to think about the rise of “The Connected Class” and how you can capitalize on the opportunities that we face with an additional 3 billion connected citizens. While it’s important to think about this, we encourage you to also think about how to design for this future, what tools we might need to connect, communicate and collaborate across cultural boundaries and how organizations will need to be structured in a future where collaboration can happen anytime and anywhere.
Throughout the next 12 months, my company, Crowdcentric, together with our global community will explore these questions through a series of conversations, articles, and conferences taking place across six continents. We urge you to join us in this exploration, and help us understand how humans can achieve more in a connected world.
Become a contributor, share this article, host an event or apply to speak during Social Media Week. However you choose to contribute to our upwardly mobile and increasingly connected world, you have a chance to shape the future.
Please join us: @socialmediaweek
Watch SMW Live
SMW Insider is a premium video platform that streams more than 180+ hours of talks, presentations, and interviews from leading industry experts.
Write for Us
Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.