We are multi-layered constructs. The “You” that woke up this morning and is now reading this, is the handiwork of parents and friends, siblings and acquaintances. Social groups and social institutions have had a hand in your make up. Employers and work environments have shaped your outlook. The natural environment you grew up in shaped your sense of hope and wonder. The groups of friends you ran around with, as a kid, taught you to be fair (or not). Education and learning, experience and living applied a thin layer of refined abstraction that serves as a quantifier in the assessment algorithms that run inside our heads. But it’s the core that’s actively us and that core is a construct.
In a way you could say that our social instincts that lead us to seek out others and interact with them are the one primary mechanism we have that leads us towards the complexity of our self-creation. This is social constructionism (https://goo.gl/nb299) that sees everything as the result of those complex interactions that take place amongst us so we “can get along”.
It is tempting to dismiss it as so much neo-intellectualism, part of the trend that tells us we can be anything we want to be, but it is a little more than that. When something as relatively simple as “truth” is so hard to define at times: https://goo.gl/hxeBGJ. We understand that context and content and cultural background (relevance) are the same filters that govern semantic search and cognitive computing and the weak AI question and, increasingly, ourselves. We all now function at a high cognitive level when even in our dumbest moments we whip out smart, connected devices and check on the weather (without specifying our location), or ask for a recipe (without going into detail of our intent), or check on traffic (without mentioning our travel route).
The connected network of information flows that makes ‘truth’ coalesce out of data, signal out of noise, during those moments also leads us to wonder the imponderable: is morality something we construct and agree on by consensus or is there an inexorable, inevitable, not-yet-understood, process that gradually leads us there: http://goo.gl/wGLUdu.
Bill Nye adds one more layer to the mix when he says that race is a human construct: http://goo.gl/y6zBUv. In truth what we mean when we say “race” is “color” which comes down to visible perceptual differences that stand for: “different”, “unknown”, “feared”, “risky”. These are ancient survival mechanisms that still hold us in their thrall.
Yet, when we realize that we are all constructs. That we are all the same. That we are all subject to the same shaping forces and influences we also realize something else: What we become, what each of us involves into, is the responsibility of us all. This affects search and marketing and branding as it affects community building and neighborhoods and relationships. There is no different mechanism governing each of these. It’s just us. Have an awesome Saturday.