Same Planet, Different Worlds - Page 2

Author // Lisa Reagan

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Same Planet, Different Worlds
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Appearing in Issue #38. Order A Copy Today

Sometimes we did big, long surveys, but many times we had to do in-person interviews with our corporate clients watching, because the corporations couldn’t believe these people actually existed. To the Traditionals and the Moderns, Cultural Creatives shouldn’t be there. The typical businessman would have the attitude of, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” He would want to sit on the other side of the one-way mirror glass and listen to these people talk. So, I let them. One head of a television station exclaimed, “My God, these people are real! I never would have believed it!”

That was a common reaction of builders of new homes, people who were selling cars, and so on—these things that were symbolically loaded, including alternative healthcare and organic food.

: What were Cultural Creatives saying in those early surveys and focus groups?

Paul: If I hadn’t been trained in market research, I never would have realized what I was looking at were cultural differences. But you couldn’t sit in on the focus groups and not hear that they spoke differently. They would talk about how their inner life was going and how they wanted to be more authentic and the politicians to be more authentic and the businesses they dealt with to be more authentic. So I said, okay, authenticity is a value for these people.

: In your book, Cultural Creatives, you go back hundreds and even thousands of years to tie together the significance of this emerging population subgroup in the past century. Where have we seen Cultural Creatives historically? And what is happening that Cultural Creatives are appearing in greater numbers now?

Paul: Cultural Creatives have been seen before. There were hermetic people who were spiritual in the Middle Ages, and the Catholic Church often persecuted them. Then there were Emerson and the transcendentalists in New England around the early 1800s. We know that the anti-slavery moment and women’s movement came out of the Quakers 300 years ago. Quakers were there at the beginning of a whole lot of movements, but they didn’t get picked up in large numbers. It was always closeted away and considered dangerous.

Basically, the cultures of Traditionalism and Modernism think of theirs as the only right way to see the world. They are very likely to persecute people who don’t see things their way. The Inquisition is an example; that ran from the 1300s to the 1700s. It was a terrible time for people who were trying out new ideas.

A lot of these new ideas come from perceiving life as whole, something that intuitive people are very good at spotting. Carl Jung’s work is about this. Cultural Creatives tie in their inner knowing with the outer world. They are very concerned about the outer world. But an increase in Cultural Creatives wasn’t possible until the 1950s, when we started moving into an informationsaturated world after World War II.

Having a more educated world and a population that was better at handling large amounts of information was a very important development—and Cultural Creatives are people who just happen to be better at handling large amounts of information. This doesn’t mean that Cultural Creatives are more educated or better at interpreting what they find, it just means that they consume more information.

They read two to three times the amount of magazine and Web articles. They track the news pretty carefully. Because of this, they are discriminating and have a terrific nose for B.S. They are very good at telling the difference between what is real and what is fake, because they have viewed the world through so many different angles.

What I used to say to clients was that if you help Cultural Creatives interpret their world, you are their friend! And that is what you, Lisa Reagan, and Pathways magazine, are doing. You are helping Cultural Creatives interpret their world around them!

Cultural Creatives are very good at synthesizing information; this is a crucial difference between them and Moderns. Moderns take in a lot of information, but they compartmentalize it, they don’t integrate it. Cultural Creatives integrate the information they get. Some of this comes from who they hang out with, and some of it is how their minds work in the first place.

The important aspect of people taking in lots of information and building a big picture is that they not freeze who they are and that they can keep developing over their lifetime. Intuitives long for a deeper sense of how the world works. So as these new social movements come along, we have also had all of these new consciousness movements come along. Cultural Creatives have always been there, egging change along and being changed by who is around them, but they are also changing the way things work. Because when you carry images from, say, the women’s movement to spirituality to civil rights—not necessarily demonstrating on the barricades, but reading everything, giving money, talking to friends in quiet rooms—there is a mutual feedback process between the inner development and the outer concern, building up experiences and friends over time who want more. Who want to have a deeper life and who end up saying, “Oh my God, it’s possible!”

Over and over again in interviews, Cultural Creatives say of their early twenties, “I didn’t think it was possible then. But later on I got to see that a deeper, more satisfying life was possible. A life that was more meaningful than just consumerism or the brass ring of success.” Many people we interviewed said they looked at the brass ring of success and decided they didn’t need that. These are people who are more psychologically sophisticated because they have taken the time and the trouble to become that way.

: Are men and women represented equally in the Cultural Creative phenomenon?

Paul: No. In fact, in the past they were women to men, two to one. Women have been taking the lead in drawing along the men they were with. So if you have women friends who are saying, “Where are all the men?” they are probably Cultural Creative women. You will know them because they will say, “Did I do something wrong? Am I being too picky?” And the answer is, no dear, you are not being too picky and you haven’t done anything wrong. There are just too few men in your tribe.

One of the things that Cultural Creative women have done with men that they are pulling along, is that they are often pretty good with social intelligence. That is, they are leading in the service to larger purposes: the whole planet, to life, to the future, and acting in socially responsible ways. Too many men in their twenties and thirties are dressed for success and that kind of wears out on them after a while. Some of this is about feeding a family, but some of this is about how men are trained. So there is an amount of unlearning that needs to be done. So typically there is a lag between the women who “get it” in their twenties and men, who “get it” in their thirties and forties.

Cultural Creative women are typically more socially skilled and have more insights earlier in life. The good news is that finally, after 40 years, Cultural Creative men are beginning to catch up with women.

: How many Cultural Creatives are there today and where do we find them?

Paul: The proportion of Cultural Creatives in any city is usually no less than 5 percent, with Boston and San Francisco being the main hubs, and big cities and college towns having higher percentages. In some cities, Cultural Creatives may feel like they are not heard or that they are repressed, but their numbers are there. And that was a striking phenomenon, that they are spread like peanut butter across the landscape.

The whole picture of Cultural Creatives slowly grew over a 20-year period until we’d surveyed 150,000 people and held 500 focus groups. Today there are 80 million Cultural Creatives in the United States, with 90 million in Europe and 25 million in Japan. Cultural Creatives are roughly about 35 percent of adults in all of the developed countries of the world. In addition to their concern about family and relationships, they are concerned about the environment, social responsibility, personal development and growth, both psychologically and spiritually, over their whole lives. This overlaps women’s concerns about children, health and issues that they have been pulling men into.

The annual growth rate is about 3 percent a year from the 1960s onward. It doesn’t sound like much until you think of it in terms of compound interest. And then it is, whoa! We had 20 percent of the American population in 1986, probably 30 million adults, and now 35 percent and 80 million.

: Cultural Creatives have been around long enough now to have children. Are we birthing and raising Cultural Creatives? Do children pick up and model the values of their parents?

Paul: Oh yes! We are breeding Cultural Creatives! At this point in time you have quite a number of kids who are saying to their parents, “Well, you only talk about it! I’m gonna do it!”

: Why doesn’t it seem like there are 80 million of us? How do we become more visible and organized?

Paul: You will not see your face in the media or hear them talk about your concerns because the news media are part of the guardians of the official reality of American culture. They are gatekeepers, and they don’t let ideas through that their advertisers might consider dangerous. It’s just bad for business. Reporters who have written about Cultural Creatives have had their jobs threatened. Cultural Creatives are heavy consumers of the news, but never see their faces reflected.

The business model is in trouble, so anything that threatens profit or the viability of a news network had to be paid close attention to. So that’s one.

The next reason is that if you go to work at a standard corporation, you will have to check your values at the door. This isn’t just true for big corporations; this is true for places like hospitals. You could work beside someone for 20 years who does share your values and not know in these places.

: So if your livelihood depends upon blending in at a work site, sharing your values could be dangerous?

Paul: Exactly. There are punishments for being deviant from the official culture. There are some cities and cultures where those punishments don’t exist.

I want to make an important point here. Cultural Creatives are not necessarily more virtuous than other people. They are not necessarily the good people of American life, or smarter than other people, or better educated. They are a subculture, so they can be smart, dumb, neurotic, sane, spiritual or true believers.