Is the age of integrity over?

Today I am doing something different – stepping out of my comfort zone (but not too far). I was invited to give a short presentation (10 minutes) to spark a debate among young people between 12-19. Most of them turned out to be around fifteen. So I know I can talk to adults but the question was whether I could be relevant to teenagers.

The question I put forward was whether the need to protect integrity was a thing of the past.

So I began by presenting the question and then started with a bit of integrity orientation. The position I presented was that previously the way in which we protected our integrity was not necessarily by keeping information secret but rather giving different pieces of information to different groups of people. I called this a strategy of compartmentalization.

What this basically means is that you present different images of yourself to different people. What you did on Saturday is a constant – but you may present different stories of Saturday to your mother, girlfriend, boss, sister, friend and a total stranger (indeed you may even attempt to tell yourself a different story).

In a world where compartmentalization strategy is implemented the greatest fear is that the different groups will share information or that a body from above has access to different versions and will be able to question the truth of your stories.

Then along comes Social Media and the constant sharing of masses of low level unimportant data about what we are doing, where we are doing it, with whom – and sometimes even why.

The problem is no longer that of different compartments knowing what you did but rather attempting to handle the fact that the compartments probably do know several versions of your truth. What we are forming here is a hive-mind. In a hive mind where everyone knows everything about you the question is no longer one of maintaining boundaries between groups. For examples of hive minds I showed them The Borg from Star Trek, The Protoss from Starcraft, The Agents from the Matrix films and The Warewolves from Twilight.

The question becomes one of handling total openness. The question becomes one of: what is the point of attempting to maintain integrity regulation? In a world were we know everything about each other the question of wanting integrity becomes suspicious. And the old idiot saying: You have nothing to fear, if you have nothing to hide becomes downright ominous.

The discussion that followed was interesting, exciting and creative. The kids touched upon the meaning of truth, the nature of evil, the importance of secrets and the meaning of life. I was very impressed.

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