TACKLING A GRAND CHALLENGE
In early 2020 we partnered with the Institute for the Future to get to the bottom of a big question. How is society adapting to increased chaos and uncertainty? The global research project’s expert interviews and ethnographic studies revealed unique, in some cases extreme, examples of new sensemaking practices. Events in 2020 heightened the necessity to understand how people navigated unknowns, including new ways of living, working, celebrating, connecting. “What Comes After the Coherence Crash” outlines five trends and ten stories of change that suggest “norms” are now anything but. Check out the study, you’ll be glad you did. (Honest.)
UNDERSTANDING NEW MODES OF SENSEMAKING
2020 was a historic year, to say the least. Norms, precedents, conventions, sources — came into question.
We identified 50+ behaviors from the edge, ultimately honing in on ten intriguing examples of new sensemaking modes in action.
TEN LEADING-EDGE BEHAVIORS
Our global study identified ten sensemaking behaviors, many with the potential to become mainstream. Check them out and discover how people are evolving conceptions of community, spirituality, health, and more.
BUILDING NEW “REALITIES” COLLABORATIVELY
What happens when the reality portrayed by the media doesn’t line up with daily lived reality? People crowdsource narratives, build on top of others’ views of the world. Last year we saw the rise of QAnon, a massive online network with real-world impact that played out via conspiracy theories around presidential candidates, 5G towers, vaccines, and beyond.
“Once you learn there’s another side to the story, you want to take a step back and see what’s going on.”
ERIC, 37, TAIPEI
When Spike Jonez’s “Her” debuted in 2013, it was speculative at best. Today, the idea of a lifelike bot companion is increasingly becoming a reality. Companionship is no longer limited to humans, or humans mediated through tech. Instead, people are turning to bots for friendship and intimacy, going beyond just customer service experiences.
The average user sends 70 messages a day to their bot.
JOURNEYING TOGETHER IN VIRTUAL BODIES
Twitch, Fortnite, and Among Us have had a hell of a run. And there’s no end in sight. Whether through voice, AR, VR, or completely computer-generated landscapes, we’re increasingly convening in a public sphere that lives almost entirely in the metaverse.
”In some ways I liked the Fortnite concert better than a real concert because you can move around the world and go anywhere you want."
ALEXIS, 10, SAN FRANCISCO
EMBRACING SECURE SURVEILLANCE
Surveillance and privacy now go hand in hand, with ethical considerations of course. We found people are motivated to share data for the safety of the greater community, predominantly within the past year, especially when it comes to public health.
28 million Americans have downloaded tracking apps or activated COVID exposure notifications on their phones.
STATELINE/PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS 2021
For many, intensified uncertainty called for introspection, political activism, and artistic expression. Putting a millennial twist on old spiritual practices — from witchcraft to tarot reading to astrology — has provided a means to do just that.
“You’d be surprised who has a tarot deck in their purse or briefcase. It’s no longer in the closet. It’s right out on the coffee table.”
LUNA, 31, SAN FRANCISCO
REDISCOVERING OR SHARING THE HYPERLOCAL
With COVID-19 travel restrictions, many reacquainted themselves with their local communities, actively participating in these economies and sharing their experiences online.
“It’s been amazing — my neighborhood. I guess there were amazing people here. I just didn’t see them."
SHAWN, 33, NASHVILLE
PERFECTING ONLINE CHEATING
Perfecting online cheating goes beyond the classroom. Consider it a new type of street smarts. It’s a response to systems that no longer serve society, and for some, a resistance long overdue. It’s a new territory for those actively seeking to dismantle longstanding traditions that may have given some an upper hand over others.
"It’s not really cheating in real life, only in this small section of life, which is school.”
THEO, 28, NEW JERSEY
BUILDING PURPOSEFUL MICRO PLATFORMS
The low-code/no-code movement has gained steam, empowering people to spin up platforms quickly, organize and enact change with agility. Technological competence is no longer a prerequisite for building meaningful platforms that connect people with common goals and interests.
“The most difficult thing isn't the technology, that's simple. What's crucial is the volunteers. They're doing the real work. ”
EDISON, 25, HONG KONG
REBUILDING FAMILY TRADITIONS
Car-parade birthday parties, front-yard graduation ceremonies, and remote funerals hosted on gaming platforms. Our conceptions of family structure and celebrations have been reimagined and due to COVID, we’ve had to adopt new traditions which may carry on even post-pandemic.
"We wouldn’t have had the intimacy, agency, and meaning that being forced to design it (the funeral) ourselves allowed."
KATRINA, 43, NEW YORK
CALCULATING PERSONAL RESILIENCE
People are seeking to build personal resilience in the face of health and financial crises. They use models to calculate vulnerability and resilience — like Stashline for financial planning; or create their own when no models exist — like symptom-tracking using Google Sheets.
“Without some kind of metric, emotions overwhelm you. My (COVID risk assessment) metric is not a perfect science. But it's a useful construct to have.”
CLAIRE, 32, SEATTLE
DOWNLOAD THE STUDY
Want more? Read the full report for additional context and examples of new sensemaking behaviors in action.DIG DEEPER DOWNLOAD
We’ll look back at 2020 as the year coherence crashed. Whether turning to micro-platforms, taking spirituality into our own hands, or rediscovering local communities, how people make sense in an incoherent world is reflected in the study.Chris Perry
Chief Innovation Officer