If we are living in the micro, can we still see the macro?

As a whole, our society is shifting how we live, learn, and interact with others. We are now, more than ever, living in the micro. We receive and post news via microblogging on Twitter; we learn new ideas through microlearning; and we dine at single concept “pop-up” restaurants and coffee shops. All just in time, and just when we need it.

The “wow-and-now” effect often supersedes the more traditional and systematic lifestyle we have known for generations. We’re getting the breaking news story of the day via a quick scroll of Twitter or Tumblr instead of newspapers. Employees viewing a 3- to 10-minute e-learning course, Googling a quick fix, or watching a how-to video on YouTube are replacing daylong instructor-led classes. Consumers are purchasing clothing at pop-up trunk shows instead of going to the retail chains we know.

We no longer have the luxury of time or patience to take in more than what we need at the moment. It is as if we read a chapter of a book, but miss the opportunity to experience and contemplate the peripheral pieces of information that start and finish the story. These personalized experiences lack the context of what happens before and after.

Will this way of “micro” consuming alter our ability to put the pieces together? Will we still have the information we need to “see the big picture,” or will each person’s picture be a personal creation with the micro-information received? If we are limited to personalized experiences, how will a group be prepared to collaborate when we need to find a common solution for the masses?

My question is, when we consume and learn in the micro, will we still be able to understand the macro?

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