The First Turning

A worldwide climate of positive change and hope for the future.

The Power of #BringBackOurGirls

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In The First Turning I wrote a chapter titled “Social Media: Not Your Neighbor’s Front Porch” in which I examine how social media has linked the world’s citizens and given people a launch pad for more than just social interaction. In recent years, social media sites have become a powerful platform for calling attention to real issues in the world – mobilizing humanitarian aid efforts in such instances as the devastating earthquake in Haiti and rallying behind the rights of those whose civil liberties are being transgressed by their nation’s own leaders, as seen in Egypt and China.

Today I am once again reminded of how social media can be used to run to the aid of those in need. On April 14, nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were herded out of their beds at their school by Boko Haram militants and abducted into the area’s dense forest. As of today—May 8, 2014—276 remain missing.

Though media outlets have given, and continue to give, the story some real estate in their programs and on their pages, it is largely the digital chatter that has led to increased attention on the matter. In the days since their disappearance, people across the globe have been adding their voice to a rising chorus calling for the girls’ freedom. On Twitter, #BringBackOurGirls has become one of the trending digital chants. Upon news that the girls would become shared wives among the militants, the hashtagged exclaim exploded—it has now been tweeted more than 1 million times.


Not one of us can know what the Nigerian girls are experiencing, but certain things come to mind. Alone. Frightened. Terrified. Worse yet, forgotten. In this moment, we cannot stave off their fear. In this moment, we cannot make them feel less terrified. We are not yet able to say with certainty that they will be saved.

But one thing we can do is to let the 276 girls and their families know that they are not forgotten.

We can sound the alarm on this gross violation of human rights and urge those with the power to affect change to do just that. We can build this worldwide campaign to epic proportions such that it envelopes the strife of the Nigerian girls and their families in a message of strength and solidarity, in a message of compassion and love.

And eventually, we can use the powers of social media among other measures in a globally coordinated surge to uncover the elusive dealings of the ruthless Boko Haram and put an end to the terror Shekau and his militants are igniting across the land in Nigeria. We can continue using our powers for good; we can continue applying them toward a new, better, more peaceful world.


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Author: thefirstturning

This blog was created as a way to continue sharing the information and emotion behind The First Turning: A Vision of America and a World at Peace. I wanted a platform that could persist beyond the stories and anecdotes published in the book, where an active dialogue can be maintained about the global community as we seek to uncover a new, more peaceful world. My book builds off of the work of William Strauss and Neil Howe in The Fourth Turning, in which the authors identified a distinct generational pattern in American history that they further segmented into a four-fold cycle to describe the corresponding shifts in cultural mood, each one spanning approximately 20 years. Their research extended back to the 16th century and was consistent for over 400 years. The First Turning is a High—a post-crisis emergence of strong societal collectiveness. The Second Turning is an Awakening—an era in which public process is at its peak and people are eager to recapture personal authenticity. The Third Turning is an Unraveling—a time when individualism is flourishing but institutions are weak. The Fourth Turning is Crisis—a time when the nation’s survival seems threatened. Fascinated by their work after, I began to pay attention more closely to the national climate and discourse surrounding daily happenings. At the time, in 2009, we were deep in crisis. Economic collapse, war, natural disasters… I listened to and absorbed the chaos. While I was able to actively apply their findings and theory to the world around me, I noticed something different—something not fully accounted for in their work. I noticed on the one hand that it wasn’t just our nation in disrepair but, in many ways, the world. I noticed too that the dialogue surrounding these events was broad and diverse, not limited to our national citizenry. As my research deepened and expanded, it became clear to me that today’s technological globalization—only a distant vision when Strauss and Howe published their work in 1997—was creating both a domino effect among the economies and societies across the world, and that that same technology was also responsible for repairing the hardship. Technology today is animating our ability to reach beyond borders and barriers to inspire collaboration and affect change in every corner of the earth. As a result of this, it occurred to me that we as a civilization were nearing a First Turning much sooner than anticipated. Technology is actively influencing humankind’s evolution in the context of these generational tides. It is that evolution that I wanted to capture in The First Turning: A Vision of America and a World at Peace, and that I hope to continue with here.

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