Cross a philosopher with a social media maven and what do you get?
Marc Gafni and Yifat Cohen, of course!
Marc and Yifat met a while back at a MetaMind event. Marc said he was writing a book, and he invited Yifat to write a few chapters. Those few chapters have turned into a collaboration, with Marc and Yifat now writing the entire book together. This hangout is one of many in a series that will provide the contents for that work in progress.
Here’s the gist of their interview with Jason Wiser, founder of On Track Tips.
The Virtue of the Virtual World
On Track Tips: What is Digital Intimacy?
Marc Gafni: We are all digitally interconnected today – but we are used to thinking of the digital world as a violation of intimacy (for instance, someone you are trying to speak with keeps looking down to keep a text conversation with someone else going). We hear about the alienation imposed on us by the virtual world, but we hear very little about the virtue of the virtual world.
But the virtual world is here to stay – like the automobile, it isn’t going away, even if there are accidents as a result – so the question becomes about how to insure the virtual world serves our intimacy instead of alienating us. How can you create an intimate corporate culture, for example, when your 50 employees only meet face-to-face a few times each year?
We must also recognize the shadows of digital world (e.g. flaming, voyeurism, and such) that are violations of digital intimacy. Digital intimacy is a two-sided sword, offering enormous opportunity and the possibility of more connectivity – more love – and it also brings to bear the baser side of the human nature, which can create enormous pain. But the shocking thing is … nobody is talking about it.
Digital intimacy is one of the most important conversations of our time, and it isn’t taking place.
What Intimacy Is … and is Not
On Track Tips: You say the conversation isn’t happening, but some say it is happening too much. Marketers constantly harp on the virtues of social tools for providing access to a more personal relationship with customers and potential customers.
Marc Gafni: Intimacy is much more than being in the same room, it is about knowing how to use the realm you are in to create intimacy. How do you, for instance, create a selfie that isn’t a narcissistic expression, but is a frame for intimacy? How do you create community and depth, rather than alienation? People see each other all the time, but without creating initimacy. How to we put consciousness and intention into creating intimacy … that is the real question.
The business side of Intimacy
On Track Tips: How do we bring intimacy to business?
Yifat Cohen: There is a movement towards automating everything and using 80/20 formulas to have the machines divide up the tasks. When that happens, though, when I am no longer involved in my business, there is no intimacy, no relationships, and no connection. If you aren’t using the technological tools to create relationships, then your business is NOT going to prosper.
Right now, big business is moving towards more personal marketing – highlighting how brands can help you make emotional connections, thereby leading to an emotional connection between you and the brand. This is new. Before this, brands were based on status. We are moving more towards the feminine side
The business/personal split
On Track Tips: How do we keep our business lives and personal lives separate in this world: It seems as if both sides have merged together.
Marc Gafni: The whole idea of a split between the business and the personal is, in some sense, a false split. John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods Market, champions a concept called “Unique self in business.” It describes how businesses can awaken to realize that the workplace is not devoid of personal lives.
Business fails and becomes corrupt capitalism when it releases workers to a personal life only on their days off. A conscious business takes relationship seriously – but not just because relationship increases profit, but because people are valuable.
Relationship and intimacy should be authentically in play on the job – not because it is good for business, but for its own sake. Because we are engaging with human beings who need relationship.
Business is voluntary exchange between people. That’s what’s gorgeous about it. That’s what makes it sacred. It isn’t enforced or coerced; it is people choosing to engage voluntarily.
Hold It! I Hate Social Media!
On Track Tips: Yifat says, “Nobody reacts to you on Google until your voice comes out.” But, where do we draw the line? How intimate do we really need to be? What if I am not the type who LIKES to socialize? What if I don’t have the ability to socialize. Am I doomed to fail? Moreover, if I use relationship as a marketing technique, doesn’t that become manipulative?
Yifat Cohen: That is the biggest thing. You remove manipulation. Once you are relating authentically with people, then you are not manipulating. You don’t have to fake it with millions of people. You can be authentic with ten or 20 and they will become your brand ambassadors.
Look at Jesus – 12 people to help him, and we’ve got the whole of Christianity. There is a reason why you are doing the business you are doing. When you relate to like-minded people who connect with you, social media will no longer be a chore … but relationship building.
The Feminine Side of Life
On Track Tips: One problem is that a business owner can get so caught up in engaging on social media that he or she neglects engaging with customers. What can be done about that?
Marc Gafni: Relationship-building online is the same as in person. There must be boundaries. Moreover, there is always a tendency to put your best face forward at first. It takes time to become authentic. A business should show up with a sense of integrity – there to serve customers. Be a mensch. Be decent. Don’t over-sell. Find your natural rhythm of authentic presence … but within appropriate boundaries.
On Track Tips: Yifat said, “For me it feels like we are in a shift, going from the masculine to the feminine. We are now leaning away from pushing the sale and more towards images, engagement, conversation, and intimacy.” Is that what is happening?
Yifat Cohen: Google dictates how we behave online. They rank us based on engagement, based on relationships … not based on numbers. That, to me, is the biggest indicator that we are shifting towards the feminine.
Marc Gafni: All of us need to be able to access both the masculine and feminine qualities. To deploy both and move between them is essential. The new Jedi knight has a sword (masculine) and receives that which is needed for life.
An entrepreneur needs to be feminine – receiving information – and, at the same time, powerfully masculine – creating action. Those qualities, when they are merged, form the new Hero, a new wholeness. We are realizing the goal of all ancient spiritual systems: the masculine and feminine, merging online … right now.
How Important is This Conversation?
On Track Tips: It is interesting that case studies show women make most of the purchasing decisions in the home. Pair that up with the shift towards the feminine. We have said relationship-building is an important issue. What’s next? What do we do with that?
Marc Gafni: The entire future of consciousness begins on us being able to create new “We spaces.” The future of the environment, the economy, every major social issue … all depend on creating a global commons that bypasses narrow governments and creates a new vision of how governance happens and how consciousness evolves. That requires concerted action. It requires us to establish relationships online and move these important issues forward. We are talking about the future of the planet, the future of humankind.
Yifat Cohen: I think the conversations happening online right now are going to change the world. The conversations we are having are bridging geographical and religious boundaries. As we change, the world changes. This is a ground level connection that will change the entire global society.
Is the Digital Revolution Good or Bad?
On Track Tips: All the time, we hear people complaining about how disconnected from reality we are becoming. If we remain on this current trajectory, will we eventually have to wage campaigns to get people to be less digitally engaged and more physically engaged?
Marc Gafni: We don’t want the digital world to replace the physical world. Several moves are needed:
- First to bring intimacy to the digital.
- Next to retain the intimacy of face-to-face encounters.
- Then to have them work together to get rid of alienation, both online and offline.
Yifat Cohen: Online encounters lead to physical encounters. Two people, who never knew one another before, can meet in a virtual hangout and fly thousands of miles to meet. The change is happening, but it is happening so gradually it doesn’t feel like it’s happening.
On Track Tips: Marc has said, “We need to restore the intimacy to the digital. We have a responsibility for our digital world.”
It is good to be in on this groundbreaking conversation.
About our guests:
Yifat Cohen, a.k.a. “The Google+ Go To Gal,” is THE expert on all aspects of Google+ … including HOA’s (Hangouts On Air). She is a coach, a mentor, and speaker who isn’t afraid to take a contrary stand and tell it like she sees it. Yifat “answers the questions that Google won’t.”
Dr. Marc Gafni is a philosopher who heads the Center for Integral Wisdom, “a think tank … which is creating a body of work to evolve the source code of human existence.” Gafni is an author, an artist, and a guy who thinks … a lot.