Martin Luther King, Jr. had many dreams. A unifier and peaceful warrior whose warmth and strength made him a compelling leader, he may also have foreseen the future— as we know it today—while writing his last book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, which was published nearly half a century ago. With our current social systems in strife and as global economies doggedly fight to maintain their old status quo while their infrastructures white-knuckle it for survival, the book’s title doesn’t seem dated at all.
As today’s social internauts remember Dr. King, many from other cultures and generations whose intrepid social media lives share his same quest for community, I was interested in learning more about their shared values in remembering this great man. I also wanted to learn about the language they used in expressing social media sentiment, iconic personality associations, cultural allusions or distinctions, and the story behind the symbolism of their emotions—the human side of emotive social media language and big data.
Global consensus on the legacy of MLK identifies other peaceful warriors—Jimmy Carter, Mahatma Gandhi, Jessie Jackson, John Lennon, Nelson Mandela— today’s “disruptors.” In a continuing quest for social equality, their shared mantra advocates a new order and community building. And it is the common theme of “disruption” that each of these peaceful warriors identified, and which requires new thinking and new tools, especially the willingness to unlearn and relearn. Or, as stated in a quote from Dr. King favored by the French: Nous devons apprendre à vivre ensemble comme des frères, sinon nous allons mourir tous ensemble comme des idiots. (We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.)
As I cross the globe of social data, there is no doubt that MLK’s dream not only has survived, but has grown more relevant over time. Why? Perhaps it is that his timeless message codifies world tumult, still in strife 50 years later. Or, perhaps, this gentle warrior’s unifying call for community over chaos has come full circle, alighting squarely on the landing pad of today’s global internaut.
In Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, the principles of human and civil rights that MLK outlined were his paradigms for a peaceful end to global injustice through unity. The threat of chaos he identified has spun 360 degrees in the age of the digital metasphere—today, in the form of disruption.
The challenge: finding orderly solutions with a human face, even at times of seemingly insoluble, disruptive data chaos.
My social media reading on MLK Day was tempered by an enduring and global universal tone—regardless of language—for community over chaos in a new order.
As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1956
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