Social Fragmentation and Cohesion
The spread of Corona has caused global concern and societies became more conscious to the need to cooperate and foster their efforts to combat the dreadful virus. Local societies are coordinating their efforts towards a common goal to contain the virus. Nobody feels safe and this common belief has led to building trust among people and the need to communicate and work together. This shared objective among all members of society has revealed the fact that social capital or what I would call “social richness” enhances with all parties working towards a common goal.
Social capital has three dimensions: the degree of connections between individuals and groups. The quality of these connections based on the degree of trust members of groups have in each other so that they may share information and experiences to resolve a mutual obligation in countering the virus. The third dimension is resources or benefits acquired by being connected.
Information is a source of social capital only if it turns into knowledge. Unfortunately, even though social disasters such as Corona are widespread with fatal consequences on all fronts we find that some behaviors erode this capital. Groundless rumors are one example of misinformation that eats away that social capital. What benefit get the sources of rumors? It is nothing other than confusing the citizen. It is a high level of stupidity that I find no reason to justify. At times of crisis we need useful information and not a garbage one. Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris expressed this very well in his comment on my previous post “indeed it's information we pass to others though usually it transforms itself to knowledge once internalized. However, we often fail to pass on an equally important thing (or perhaps even more important): understanding and mental maturity”. The social capital is thus linked to social maturity. If maturity is lacking the social capital becomes fragmented and social efforts dilute by going into different directions.
This issue of social fragmentation is riskier than what seems on the surface. The three components of social capital mentioned earlier don’t work in isolation as they feedback to each other. Their combined effect is greater than their sum.
Dimensions of Social Capital
As mentioned before, the interactions of these three dimensions are complex and like the three components of weather they may produce strange behaviors.
An example of a strange attractor
This is analogous to the complexity explained in the following video.
A common goal such as fighting the Corona virus make the goal act as the strange attractor that attracts all efforts to its domain. This is achievable only if everyone makes self the strange attractor to create new paths of possibilities. Second, is to team up and create (new) social systems jointly. Spreading rumors diverts the attention from the common goal and may create a new, but highly undesirable, new attractor that dissipates social efforts aimlessly. Non-equilibrium systems, like society, are not comprised of single formulae; they are fractal and have diverse structure on many scales. They are composed of many autonomous elements, each operating with many different values. Such complex systems are easy for perturbations by rumors and shift their behavior into unknown paths.
Social capital is sensitive to the initial conditions. Rumors have their negative impacts in reducing the social capital and even send human resources into the wrong directions. Jerry Fletcher shared a sales funnel that was presented in a conference which he attended. I find this funnel also extensible to social capital.
Aligning human efforts and thus enhancing the social capital is based on trust among all parties. Credibility and Certainty are components of trust as is explained in the funnel/without trust there shall be no impacting social capital.
The Sales Funnel may be extended to form the Social Funnel. This is another story.