#187 Human Connection during COVID – Emma Gibbens

How has COVID impacted our connection with one another?

This is the focus of this weeks conversation with Emma Gibbens who, based on her previous work as a political campaigner, now holds space for deeper searching conversations on a range of topics.

In this exploratory conversation we got into the need for boundaries; how social media has impacted the relationship between community, the market and government; we question the underlying structure of many assumptions that we connect upon; and we also consider how connection will differ, particularly for countries like the US and UK, as we come out of COVID.

Emma is obviously a bright and passionate lady, which produced a hugely thought provoking conversation.

Read Full Transcript

Bryn 

How has COVID impacted our connection with one another? This is what I discussed this week with Emma Gibbens, based on her previous work as a political campaigner now hold space for deeper searching conversations on a range of topics. In this exploratory and emerging conversation, we got into boundaries, how social media has impacted the relationship between community marketing, and government, we question the underlying structure of many assumptions that we connect upon. And we also consider how connection will differ, particularly for countries like the US and the UK, as opposed to WA, as we come out of COVID, Emma is obviously a bright and passionate lady, which really produced a hugely thought provoking conversation, a conversation that certainly gave me most to consider in the days after it. So enjoy. Emma.

 

Bryn 

I’m your host, Bryn Edwards, today, I have the great pleasure of speaking with Emma Gibbens. Welcome to the show.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Thanks for having me. This is my first podcast interview, by the way. So this is a good Good, good time to give it a crack

 

Bryn 

So. I spoke to you a couple of days ago and said, Hey, where do you think we should start? And your response to that was, how COVID has impacted our connections, both internally and externally. So it’ll be a fantastic place to start a conversation. So you want to frame us up as to where that came from?

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, as I preface before, I said, there’s more questions than answers. So let’s explore, I think, externally, we can see quite a lot of obvious changes in how people connect, using zoom for weddings and funerals, and, you know, all types of ceremony and friendship, and, you know, so using video platforms to connect in that way, in that, you know, external surface level way. But then also, like, spending so much time alone, spending so much time in isolation, without that external pressure of having to go out and society or be performing in a certain way, I think it actually opened up a lot of people’s the opportunity for people to look within and to find some space within. And that has produced these things within myself in my internal workings and, you know, understanding how the world around me works and how I interact with it. I’ve definitely changed and I’ve seen a lot of my friends change as well. And and there’s a lot of different outputs in that some of the outputs of that internal change, because I think, largely like, if you change inherently change how you participate externally, and that collectively creates change, right? That’s maybe a way to think about how the impact of that what it could be. But internally, the changes, I mean, it’s it’s a change in understanding the world around us. It’s a change. And I think so much of Western culture particularly is based around control, command and control and the illusion of control was lifted when the pandemic hit. And then also that creativity, that people left to their own devices are coming up with really creative and interesting things, the amount of YouTube YouTubers that we’re seeing doing interesting and innovative things. I have friends writing poems, who would never have thought to do that, you know, and so it’s just seeing this creativity bubble up as well has given me a bit of hope and excitement for what, you know what humanity? I don’t know, because I feel like you know, we were going down a path, which was quite consumption, quite just consume, right, consuming on my phone consuming every day consuming materials searching for more, more, more, more, more. And COVID, I think was a bit of a circuit breaker and perhaps some of that behaviour. That went a lot of places. So

 

Bryn 

it did, yeah, it did indeed. Start with a consumption that was tied to what you saw was saw happening before. Before the circuit breaker. I mean, there’s obviously the consumers capitalist framework version that we all swim in. But I think for me as well. The consumption of content of things of information. And for me, and other people around me, I think, whilst we stayed at home with COVID, you know, during our stay, I call it a stay at home period for us, you know, last year that amped up consumption To the point where to the point where I actually got last year, consumption fatigue. And now I have a stillness practice, which I suppose some might say is a meditation practice. But I would say it’s a stillness practice where it is literally I sit, eyes closed, and I don’t consume. Thoughts may come and go and stuff like that. So the timer. Yeah,

 

Emma Gibbens 

exactly. Give your your mind a break. I mean, consumption fatigue is especially exhausting when the news is predominantly negative. And so that certainly adds a layer to why people feel overwhelmed. But I think that’s like driving to the creativity point. Like, we had a very short lockdown period, but like looking at my friends and family back in the States, if you’re locked inside for 10 months, for a year, yeah, like, sure you’re gonna scroll every Instagram page, every Facebook page, probably read every book in your house. But then what? You know, like it, kind of, I think everyone’s sort of, you know, at the end of all of that journey, yes, you can only you can pour so much into that. Yeah, and then one,

 

Bryn 

and then you go and watch Netflix, and then you’ve watched all of that,

 

Emma Gibbens 

and then one, and then stop, and who are you? And what lies within that? And what what do you choose to do? When you have spare time? You know, like, how often in the Western world? Do we not have enough time we’re running again, like we’re racing the clock in every single minute. And so to have spare time is like, oh, who am I? How do I use this? It’s a choice about Yeah, again, like who you are, it’s kind of an interesting identity moment to come across, or to continue plugging with more Netflix, Hulu, Stan, etc, drugs, alcohol, whatever, you know, it may be you can keep that thought at bay. But I hope the more people are courageously diving into it, after feeling math, fatigue and exhaustion. I’d say you also just said the consumption of information. I was going to take us on a dogleg to Facebook’s news today. Have you seen this? Yes. Yeah. Cool. So today’s the day we’re Facebook turned off the switch on Australian on Australian users of Facebook, access to news information and ability to share and ACCESS News, right. And so the consumption information just before Trump, after the capital riots, and before Trump was leaving office, so that kind of Jan, six to 20th period, in 2021. I was I was playing in my head, like who I wonder if, what if he could ban Facebook in the US? Like, I wonder what that would happen? Like what would be who what would the ramifications be? What would happen in society? What would happen in our connections? How would we go back to how we organised and communicated before Facebook? And so, you know, it was a fun thought experiment, but every person I’ve floated it with has gone like, you know, like you take away Facebook. And so now to have Facebook do it to the Australian public and seeing the responses and news is just a tiny part you still have events and family gatherings and photos and that significance in there. So it’s been like a little part of that thought experiment has been tested in today’s reaction. And so in consuming information in reacting to today’s news, I don’t know if it is good or bad things it might help us get back to a bit of a more common humanity like attendance of humanity or like to to a bit of slowness and pacing rather than, you know, misinformation and and you know, polarising and polarising, and yeah,

 

Bryn 

as I listened to you, and as I think about it, it feels like yes to,

 

 

I think

 

Bryn 

one of the scariest, there were two really scary tenants that came out of watching the film social dilemma. And one of them was that we naturally assume that AI would come through the front door, ie, the Terminator, potentially it comes through the back door, overcoming our human weaknesses. And, and, and therefore, if and Facebook and and other search platforms have certainly done that. Whereas where people are addicted, and if we use the definition of addiction, like from Gabor Ma Tei, you know, something that gives you temporary relief, but of which has further consequences and you cannot give up. And then these things are addictive. And therefore, you know, it’s one of those things, you know, are we grown up enough to play with them. And one of the things I’ve had a funny conversation with my own man the other day where we talked about The lack of respect for authority is leaving us in a bit of a pickle at the moment. Okay, we could say the government and authority has hasn’t exactly. Shawn, in years gone by with, you know, do we have leaders that actually lead? Or do we have politicians that carefully, stay one step ahead of the polls? Do what the populist thing is. We saw that in the UK when we switched from the Tory government to the Tony Blair government. And he was a big first big user of focus groups. And you could sense that all he was doing was giving the public what they wanted. So is that leadership or what and there’s a massive conversation there. But when we have things pop up, like Facebook, and things like that, where we think that they start off in there but nine and with you know, we’re exchanging pictures and how am I going and connecting with like a dude I’ve not seen from school for 20 years. So lovely. Then when we start trading in human futures, which is the other scary tenant, when it’s coming in through the back door, when your your attention your time on this mortal coil has become a commodity. Where are the grownups that go? Sorry, this is out of control.

 

 

Yeah,

 

Bryn 

grownups go gone.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, it’s funny. I love that who’s the adult in the room? And it happens in many complex organisations that I’ve worked with where there’s no one being like, this is obviously the most strategic thing to do yet. Everyone’s going at it. Yeah, I had a thought where it was going, and I’ve totally lost it. Sorry. I did. Yeah. So I am.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Sorry, my brain is this is the part we warned you about doing too many meetings. And this is the part that we give out. But the I think, like when you set off 40, what it sparked to me was like, maybe the Oh, yeah, here’s where I was going. Yeah. So like, there’s currently an interaction between the market government and the community, right. That’s sort of how like, the social how the social structure is currently. And when you talk about like Facebook coming in through the backdoor and being so dependent, or we community being so dependent, it may be realised why the community’s impact has shrunk, like right now, communities being squeezed between government and the market.

 

 

Public. Yes.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah. People. Yeah. Broadly, the the commons. And so it’s interesting that like, so this community has been being squeezed for a really long time. And so my, a lot of work I do is to empower people to find the power within themselves that collectively, we may have more power as community to push back and flex, right,

 

Bryn 

that’s come out of your background in political campaigning. Yeah,

 

Emma Gibbens 

yeah. But it is, but you and this attention, you’ve been saying we’ve been seeing in the relationship in corporate and market where so much more of the government or sorry, the government is giving up. Its control in supporting community and like more of that’s going to fill anthropic arms within corporate or corporate is servicing the greater public goods name, but still is running in a corporate structure where the shareholder ultimately is the beneficiary. And so so you seeing government getting weak in the market is taking over and it’s interesting now, with that Facebook, I hadn’t like I’m trying to think of what is the relationship then? Is the community as the predominant users, and the people who create the value for Facebook? Do they have the power? Or is it Facebook’s a corporate that still has the power? Because they can pull off? The you know, they can they can pull out the rug anytime?

 

 

Let me do that again.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah. Yeah, this this, this is in real time thought. If, if if Facebook is coming in the backdoor manipulating us into needing it, who actually holds the control? Is it the community as the main users, because Facebook could be worth nothing if it had no users? Right? Or is it Facebook because they own the platform that we’re addicted to?

 

Bryn 

This is right. And this is exactly the same conversation I have. When people bemoan the lack of the absence of a local fruit and veg shop, because everybody’s gone to Coles and Woolworths. And then, through my knowledge of working in the vegetable industry, when the supermarkets say to the growers, we need your capsicum to be beautifully presented like this, because this is what the consumer wants. Is it what the consumer wants? Or is it what the consumer has been trained Do or is it even further? Is it what they decided because now the consumer doesn’t even know what they want, because there is no other option because there is no other fruit and veg shop other than Coles and Woolworths are the minor ones, you know, and it all comes down to a matter of convenience. So you’ve got this, you know, I mean, it’s easy in both instances to say, well, you the consumer have the power because you can choose to a delete Facebook, and then be not sure for cause wars. But we’re now at a place where if you don’t go to cosmology, where do you go? And if you don’t use Facebook, how do you connect? And then there’s going to be that a best point where you’re like, Oh, fuck, what do we do? Now there are creative solutions. There are creative solutions. And but it’s, are you willing to stay in the alpha in the Abyss and swim through? Or is it all right? I’ll come back.

 

Emma Gibbens 

A part of me is wondering if. Because I also Facebook has many advantages, like the globalisation of the connection and being able to collaborate and see things in much broader levels than just what you see yourself. I wonder if it’ll be a thing where like Facebook was first out best dressed somehow like Tesla’s first out best dressed, but the rest of the industry will catch up to it eventually, and then Tesla will just become run in the middle. Because other things, other other electric vehicles have surpassed it. I wonder if Yeah, it’s been it’s been, you know, 13 years, Facebook has been first out best dressed is going to start acting like this, I wonder if there will be. And there have been some attempts at social networks, taking, being competitive with Facebook. But I wonder if the if the if the, if the gap is like a community owned or open source, collaborative platform, like Facebook or something, I don’t know, I suppose exist. Reddit is one for example, you know, very, very user driven, very collaborative and democratic yes, some of those other platforms. But again, I am the I Am the consumer, I can choose to go,

 

Bryn 

I guess the challenge for me is that and this probably, inadvertently swinging it back to the original sort of thing about connection is that interacting online, especially may be triggering, for some you are, you are interacting in an imaginary, collective imaginary, a digitised collective, imaginary. Now, if we look at the 10, if we look at the the sort of the 10 layers of community that start with self, then go to your first family, which is your mom and dad and sister, then it goes to your peer group, your friends, then it goes to your second family, which is your wife and the kids that you have. And then you go to your local communities, whether that’s a sports club, the pub, the people, you’re hanging out with the people that come when they’re real, they’re real time they can hold you to account they know you, you have full on interaction with them, once you get to the next part, which is nation states. And then when you get further beyond that into the cultural zone, and then into universal principles, humanity and globe. They are. They are imaginary. And yes, we feel them through the systems and the tax and things like that. But it still that exists because we buy into it. Whereas the community there around us spend a bit of time reading about this actually, through interacting with a previous guest Thomas Bjorkman in the Nordic secret. And so this is not to this is not to poopoo the imaginary community.

 

 

It’s

 

Bryn 

my concern is that thing entities like Facebook have created imaginary community, which can give us access to wider global perspectives. The challenges are you Do you still have the real grounded community around you? from which to venture into that?

 

Emma Gibbens 

I’m smoking because I don’t think I think your framework is slightly the framework is solid, but yeah, it’s not that the the online offline operates at the outer and inner circles online actually exists from the centre out Yeah, I only see my family through WhatsApp. And that’s been that way for four years. Yes, I have. I don’t but my there are friends, there are stories of people who’ve been friends only online and met in person for the first time eight years later, you know, so I don’t know if it’s as much of a I agree with the the the levels of distance from the individual. But I don’t know if online is strictly the rule for the external

 

 

online. It’s kind of interesting whether

 

Emma Gibbens 

if anything online has helped enable me to live in Australia for as long as I have cars, I can still connect to my family and share photos and call and email as quick like you It is, it is another thread that strengthen some of them. See, I

 

 

yeah, and it it is fascinating when you watch films like have you seen the lost city of z?

 

 

No. zombie movie? No,

 

 

no idea.

 

 

Not great culture.

 

Bryn 

Anyway, it’s about the guy who went off and would would go and explore the Amazon, in in, you know, the 1800s 1900s. And he was part of the British Geographical Society. And he’d be gone for three to four years at a time. And his wife would only receive like, the odd letter.

 

 

Is he coming back? No, I

 

Bryn 

know. Yeah. And then he come back. And I mean, now look, I watched the film says, Do you know dramatisation of this. And but that was no this going away? And then coming back, it’s interesting, because we’re people were people more interested in now this, isn’t it? It’s where people more steadfast in their relationship and where they stood in it. And they didn’t need the continual

 

 

hit hit.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. Am I in it? Am I not? Am I anytime I not know that we now get through WhatsApp in your family? Yeah, the same thing I have all my family’s in. In the UK,

 

Emma Gibbens 

I’m sorry, I’m jumping in another, another potential societal shift in from these relationships that you described being in nice and neat containers, in addition to be the way that we think they should be? Rather than Now, those containers are much more fluid much more open much more interpretable. Right. And we’re seeing that happen with obviously, the gender discussion has definitely become a much more fluid, less binary thing, and that that language is new for everyone. The the way, you know, family and friends structure is becoming less containerd. And I think what I would have started questioning more is what’s the underlying like? Where’s the belief stem from? What have I been conditioned to believe about, for example, these 10 layers of family? What do they look like when I think of what that layer is? What where does that belief come from? And so I wonder if maybe it’s a global unpacking of what we know, into a world where no one knows anything. It’s total anarchy of beliefs, maybe that’s both comforting and terrifying.

 

 

You know, or, you know, or truth is universal.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Bryn 

No. So all truth is relative. Except for the fact that what you’ve just said, is universal. And yeah,

 

Emma Gibbens 

we were joking earlier with a friend like, you know, his reality the same. Do we see yellow the same? You know, yeah, anyway, yeah, you could go out to that far. But yeah, bringing it back. It is. But yeah,

 

 

I think I think you raise an interesting point, because

 

 

play

 

Bryn 

boundaries in containers are both helpful, and yet constraining in equal measures, when I think there are certain things in our human development that we can’t quite get away from which when part of our relative ego development includes understanding boundaries and where I finish where I start, where I finish, where you start, and where you finish, and when that’s not in place. That’s the that is, when that’s not in place in a healthy way. That is the inception of narcissism, because what you then have is a view that that out, me and the outside world are all one and therefore it serves me and I serve it And it just. And I spent an amount of time pursuing that topic in the podcast last year. Because I wrestled with, oh, yeah, we’re all one man. We’re all energy now understand the other. And everything’s, you know, relatively definable. But then that’s helpful and not in equal measures. And whereas understanding healthy boundaries, not not the content of the what the boundaries is, but the mechanism of the boundaries. So I can play with it, but then for it, because if, if it remains boundary less all the time, fuck, we’ll just go around and circle backwards.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, I would say maybe boundaries is absolutely the correct word. But another way I interpret it is etiquette. And having moved across cultures and operating in different social environments, you have to figure out the norms only through trial and error, and through kind of figuring out where those boundaries lie slightly different than the relationship with the ego internally, but like, externally etiquette is a way to describe that. But I think the challenge with connection online, is that those boundaries are not explicit, nor there’s no explicit advocate. And the boundaries are still undefined, untested or unknown. And so where’s the what is appropriate for me to comment on someone else’s thing? What are they? What’s the boundary for me to share? You know, we’re seeing those being pushed and, you know, pushed back and moved, like, it’s still, it’s an entirely new social common. So how do we, you know, I think it’s, it’s laughable that in the, you know, 20 years, since the internet’s become widely adopted, that we would, we would have it sorted. So how do we, you know, so you say boundaries? And I was gonna ask you what, how would you describe boundaries online?

 

Bryn 

And? Well, when you started talking about new etiquette online, one of the things that I noticed things that I feel online, interacting lacks, is a sense of consequences.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Hmm. Back to the imagination and the imaginary and I can be whomever you don’t know who’s actually behind the voice.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. You know, there’s, there’s a certain sense of primal natural law, whereby if you sat here and you were rude to me, I would you would get a response and it wouldn’t just be symbols. And it wouldn’t just be sound. There’s more in this interaction than just the sound and just the body language, there’s an energy to it, as well, you know, our nervous systems and everything are now sinking up because we’ve sat here close enough long enough. And, and there would be even a further level to it, which was if you were just downright rude, you know, there is there is a very real consequence that I could slap you want of a better phrase, right? And so whilst it is very primal, it exists. And,

 

Emma Gibbens 

and should be respected and honoured as well, I think sometimes triggered by energy and it gets woowoo we don’t need to talk about love. Now we do. It’s very important. So I’m right there with ya. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

So what what I find happens in online interaction is you’ve taken out a consequence, because I can just hammer into your day if I want to, I can just

 

Emma Gibbens 

I can make a bot that hammers you every 30 seconds from now until till you know when exactly yeah,

 

Bryn 

but also, what else is going on there? Well, I could be, you know, you may well have triggered me to make me want to. I can give you the shit online. So now I’m projecting all this vim and vigour out on it onto you know, into the keyboard, into the video, whatever. And, and that comes from somewhere in our unconscious. That is your own stuff to deal with. This is

 

Emma Gibbens 

but Just to confirm a de escalates when you move into smaller spaces, so someone’s railing on a Facebook page comment post, you bring them into DMS. And that already de escalates that you give them a phone call. And it really de escalates as you get closer. Exactly. So yeah, so just confirm, I guess

 

Bryn 

getting closer. And so yeah, but until Yeah, and then the ultimate is this city now so but that in and of itself, even that little thought journey, and highlights different levels of quality, connection.

 

 

So

 

Emma Gibbens 

pointing that out, let’s look at the US. Lots of people who are at the US RNA full lockdown or have been self isolating for a significant period of time, their main interactions have been in that text based distance weigh. I keep asking myself, how will that change our, our wiring, or our psyche or energetic transfer, like I’m concerned when I go home last time I was homeless two years ago, and so I was supposed to travel last year didn’t happen. I’m concerned when I go back that my social norms will be very, very different than the social norms of like my family, even

 

Bryn 

I have exactly the same challenge with my family in the UK.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Like, will we go for a handshake? And they be like, Whoa, what the heck? You know, or will y’all sit next to me on the couch? Yeah. And they’ll be like, No, and I and I, I’ve been trying to name that. And I’m, I’m wary of naming it as a decline in empathy. Because I think that you know, if anything, it might be empathy, fatigue, or feeling too much. But it is it is a it is a distance and isolation, a feeling of like something deadening and hardening and in some of the peers I’ve been speaking to, and, and heck, just observing my time in isolation, you know, that we only in two months last year, and I became much more of an introvert than I’ve ever been, haven’t really fully recovered. In some ways, I still prefer to, you know, I’ll just stay in and read Thanks. Yeah, it’s a bit safer and more more stable. So I’m very curious to see how forcing everyone into that distance environment, where connection has those, you know, the anonymity that, you know, online allows or the lack of that energetic transfer that we get when we are physically together? What that will do for society

 

Bryn 

long term,

 

Emma Gibbens 

because, you know, and in some ways, like, I described COVID, as an accelerator, not really a catalyst, it didn’t really change anything, it just accelerated a lot of inevitable outcomes, flexible work, universal, basic income, like so, you know, how are how the market is structured, and doesn’t work for working people, you know, it’s just accelerated a lot of these things, including, I think, the isolation of individuals into their online only environments. You know, you read Ready Player One, and that’s basically people live online in the imaginary universe and only get out of it to feed their physical self and then hop back into the virtual reality. Like, it’s, you know, it’s obviously informed by science fiction, but you can naturally see how that would progress. Hmm,

 

Bryn 

where does it progress?

 

Emma Gibbens 

Oh, I mean, towards that I mean, you see, towards I think generation Zed gets a lot of backlash for not be able to have conversations person to person. I don’t know if they’ll need to value that or exist in that way in for 40 years. I think they should I think they start, I think conversations and knowing how to interact as humans together in a room is valuable. But will it be necessary in the coming lifetime of humans? I don’t know. Because I mean, you can order your groceries online, you can have everything come to your house, most of us have ndn now, work can happen. All types of work remotely. friendship groups are happening remotely, you can play video games and literally interact with friends in a very social environment in an open world setting. You know, like, so many qualities of life are satisfied. Online can play with making this case, I’m usually such a like in person connection in humans right now, here I am making the case for like, Yeah, but inevitably, we will the way we’re going we won’t need it. And maybe it’ll be sometimes I wonder if it

 

 

will be within the framework? chimerism capsulas?

 

 

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

You know, and the fact that using words like not necessary.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, it’s true. Yeah. What is Yeah, it’s not, it doesn’t it won’t serve its productive outcome, thus, it does not need to happen. And what is a productive you know, what is productivity? Because only productivity has value, and,

 

Bryn 

you know, to be transparent, that that reality that you’ve painted significant can lead jars with me based on the based on the initiative, which is this podcast where 95% of the podcasts have been in person. And the zoom ones have only really been covered during our stay home period. And then to talk to some global thought leaders on things because they’re all at home. So that’s how I got the accessibility is quite Yeah, because they’re at home, they’re not busy. And that’s how I got to speed to narcissist experts and stuff. And, but to go back to it, this, the 95% of in person conversations are nourishing to me. On a level I can’t explain, and I’m not disagreeing. No, no, no,

 

Emma Gibbens 

I’m just challenging that that is a bias that we might have been of a generation that remembers before phones. You know, I mean, you’ve seen the babies now getting a magazine, like trying to swipe the magazine, and they’re like, what’s going on? Yeah, like, it’s supposed to swipe beyond like, literally how how, you know, how young people are going to interact with the world is, this is a watershed moment, you know, unless it swings back, and they realise, and then there is the realisation of the value in this connection. And certainly, like, I mean, from leadership and negotiation across countries and with resources, golly, I hope that people sit in a room around a table and speak plainly to each other, because that would solve a lot of things.

 

Bryn 

It comes to a when I listened to that particular the baby’s there, it to me, it comes to a this is consciously where we’ve been leading, because we’ve been present in it, even if we’ve been asleep, where we’ve been going it I just wonder how, whether there is a underlying creative pattern. I recently been listening to people talk about a difference between I made laws and natural laws, and whether if we are delving so far apart from one another, I mean, before we started, you gave me a, you know, here we are in the country. And so you’re recognising that there is a connection to land and there’s something there that that will, in effect, play a part in bringing things back. Only so far, we can go with man’s made systems up,

 

Emma Gibbens 

I disagree, because I think nature is the greatest innovator that we have. And I think you see a lot of business speak going now to networked resilient organisations and systems ecosystems and your like, nature has literally been doing this forever. It’s also put in the hierarchy with the board room and the you know, top down, you know, and and similarly, in, you know, you know, all these different creatures can do these phenomenal things, you know, spiders so that we can ants carrying 25 times their weight or whatever the stats are, you know, like it’s,

 

Bryn 

we only

 

Emma Gibbens 

have to look to nature and learn from nature to innovate. Yeah,

 

Bryn 

that’s what I was saying.

 

 

Yeah.

 

 

saying, you know, as opposed to, I don’t know.

 

Emma Gibbens 

But I wonder what what is the circuit breaker to get rid of or to, to stop down this path? I mean, low Okay. One part of me is like patriarchy might like Boise had a chance give it to the women like, but, but in a more real way, I wonder if COVID will accelerate us further down this path or be the circuit breaker Navy or be part of that process for well, moving away from such consumption based systems.

 

Bryn 

You called it an accelerator earlier on, maybe we’re actually accelerating to more circuit breakers than we realise, huh?

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah. The pressure cooker will create more.

 

Bryn 

You know, we are now beginning to feel some very large fundamental underlying systems. Craig, was it a quarter of the US dollars were printed in the last 12 months?

 

 

How many

 

Emma Gibbens 

people I mean, again, the US is such an example of people who are working three jobs are now earning more on their welfare COVID payments than they were working three jobs like this. But they’re lazy, no one should be working three jobs. So that’s what’s broken anyway,

 

Bryn 

out of control.

 

Emma Gibbens 

And only with this as an accelerator or a mirror to show us that, however, I’m not seeing much tangible action, because there is also such a need and fear wrapped up in it that there, you know, there’s just, Oh, I’m so thankful I have a job like, okay, yeah, but that narrative isn’t going on for like 10 1215 years, putting the fear of fear of into people that job is who they are and what they need most and

 

Bryn 

identity and without that up now.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, my heartbreaks a lot, actually, living in Australia is quite remarkable compared to the US because the US like, I didn’t know how bad it was till I moved to Australia. And you see how people can live prosperous lives with a high social floor, a high social safety net in the high floor, fruit standard of living. And just how many people are truly surviving in the US barely surviving. And that that is, and yet it’s still you come to Australia, people fetishize the US being like, Oh, it’s this amazing place, and culture, tell me all about it. And you’re like, Nah, it’s so far, like, the reality is so different from that, in some ways, and for so many.

 

 

And it takes moving from one culture to another. To see that

 

 

contrast,

 

Bryn 

see, and recognise that contrast for me, leaving the UK 10 years ago. I mean, you would think that, England to Australia, that’d be quite

 

Emma Gibbens 

literally both still the answer to the queen? So

 

Bryn 

be straightforward. No, no, not at all. Not at all. To start with, it was a lot more blunt and harder to live here and quite painful. But now, you know, when when, when you have the family say why have you locked down for one case? Because it’s one case, but really locked down till? Exactly, yeah. Well, we couldn’t have done what you did, you know, locking borders up and things like what do you mean, you’re on an island? Yeah. And you’ve just passed Brexit? Yeah, it could sandbag the channel, and stuff it Oh, yeah.

 

Emma Gibbens 

You literally get a whole thing about this about isolating yourselves, like,

 

Bryn 

  1. And so yeah. And so now it’s not, you know, you see proactive leadership, you know, walking down for five days, you know, was it right, was it wrong? But it was we don’t know. But it was it was action. And, and it happened quickly? You know, I ended up in a probably not one time Not now. But, you know, I end up in a debate sometimes with friends back at home where I say, you know, it’s all very well leading the world in, in vaccines, which the UK is in, but hanging out and locked down for you and waiting for a vaccine is not a plan? Well, it is. But it’s a lot, I would say it’s a low quality one, compared to what do we need to do to be? You know, things out, keep the you know, keep, you know, well, a function of whether it’s whether what we’ve done here has been helpful, good productive, is the fact that you’ve already said, when you go back to America, you don’t know how you’re going to be able to interact because you’ve still lead a normal healthy lifestyle, compared to one that’s been locked down.

 

 

I mean,

 

Bryn 

actually, here’s an here’s an interesting investigate, what was what is underpinned, and was underpin that being a happy, healthy lifestyle, probably being out in friends and connecting and being present with people as well as

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, I mean, yes. And I mean, this is Zach was gonna take it on leadership, and global leadership and how, oh, there’s so much to say in this because it’s a real lack of leadership that has led the US in the UK to be in those sort of cases, or

 

 

lack of leadership would like for you. Yeah,

 

Bryn 

I mean, I’m quite

 

 

Yeah, I mean,

 

Emma Gibbens 

how would I describe Australia has a lack of leadership not stepping into this, hey, globe, check out here’s how you can do it at scale. You know? I mean, a lack of leadership. Okay. So it’s deeper. Okay. It’s not it’s not a simple answer. In both these countries is like the two party system where all political parties are incentivized to rise to the top and then bash each other down thus disincentivizing them or disenfranchising themselves to themselves and to their you know, citizens, right. So everybody hates everybody because that’s how the system has been designed. So the failure of leadership is that it becomes this tit for tat in that environment, rather than actual greater good values shared common ground, best practice. And the other end, and I’m trying to

 

Bryn 

like the analogy of, do you build your house bigger than your competitor? Would you just work on smashing the house? A little bit?

 

Emma Gibbens 

I don’t know that analogy. Okay, well, we’ll scrap. Okay. I was just gonna say, cuz it’s, um, I think the failure of leadership is, my friend said this phrase earlier. And I’m trying to remember who it is. So I can credit them. I’m so sorry, if you’re listening to this. But the the failure of leadership is not, is not is by not doing best practice. And instead of doing nationalist practice, so the US says, Oh, yeah, that’s great that Dutch people can live in a health care that’s, you know, Scandinavia has a family policy. That’s, you know, world class, too hard for the US, we’re different in the US, it wouldn’t work here. That’s a nationalist lens on best practice. So I think leadership should be looking at best practice globally and implementing it for the good of people and the environment. And you know, the four P’s purpose planet profit people. Yeah,

 

Bryn 

yes. What is? What does the best look like? This is what we should do? And yes, that involves change. And yes, that means you’re going to have to move in, or alternately or externally.

 

Emma Gibbens 

And the mover, I mean, particularly in the US. corporates, and money influencing lobbying, certainly influences so much decision making. And so you know, and so no wonder it’s, it’s gone for the lowest dollar and highest profit in that system, because best practice. It doesn’t it can’t be manipulated in that way. No.

 

 

How does that get us? Right?

 

Emma Gibbens 

After Citizens United, it’s really tough. And the thing that I mean, like the progressives have had to, but progressives have had to rise to the occasion and also form their own PACs and 501 c threes and fours like it’s, it’s just gotten to be like, it’s an arms war, in some ways and money on both sides of politics. And it’s, I mean, publicly funded campaigns would be an obvious place to start, you can only spend a quarter of a million dollars on your campaign, or $2 million, or whatever you think this last election was, like, 50 million. There’s some some double digit millions spent on I should put that up, I should know how much was spent. But it was extraordinary.

 

 

High Level effects you wanted? Yeah.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah. I want to have it for this moment when I can be armed with the evidence. Yeah, I don’t. Yeah, it’s it’s a self perpetuating system, right? Because in that capitalist and consumption frame, you know, it’s like, You’re, you’re putting money towards the thing that you believe is good, so that it can create things which, you know, spend money on these things. I feel like that system is broken yet. Doesn’t it’s corrupt? But I don’t I can’t I can’t figure out how to fix it from over here as well.

 

 

us do it different.

 

 

Is it fixed? Or is it let that

 

Bryn 

pass?

 

Emma Gibbens 

But what’s the mechanism for change, right? Like the Polly’s are not incentivized to change it. And we’re about to go into all out civil war where one side is armed to the teeth and the other side is armed, not at all and barely can agree to get on the same side of stuff. So like, it ends poorly. And so the adults in the room or a strategic mind, like myself is like, surely we can just sit down and figure this out. Like,

 

Bryn 

but yeah.

 

Emma Gibbens 

That’s the idealist in me coming out and very optimistic. very hopeful that that is the path but Yeah, that’ll think it’ll happen. Yeah, there’s also unlike and fairly there’s so many underlying difficulties globally with dissent with systemic disenfranchisement, you know, judgement and disenfranchisement of people and so how many systems can we dismantle in one afternoon conversation?

 

Bryn 

We’re done a few

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, patriarchy class. You almost got to race

 

Bryn 

supermarkets

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yep, supermarkets on that I just had a tiny one. Because like the thing you said about like tomatoes for example, you know, they’re bred to look a certain way but they taste like sawdust it’s kind of this like superficial again conditioning to go for something that’s optically pretty this is very the Instagram the here’s the shiny on the outside, whereas the actual taste is is missing. And like ugly vegetables usually come from actual organic farms you know, sort of thing where like, love in son has put input into them. Yes. And so I think that that’s an interesting that’s an analogy I’m gonna play with a bit more to express that difference.

 

Bryn 

Yes, and warehouse have received people fixated with illusions. boundaryless

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, it’s hard like bringing it back to us, right? Like, it’s great to talk about all these things. But like, I always am like, well, Emma, what are you really doing in your life? Like, sure I have a worm farm. So I recycle, like maybe half of my food scraps, but I still consume, you know, my husband, I consume an entire trashcan of trash every fortnight, right? So like, so like, what am I doing about it? Well, I’m still chugging along, you know. And so it’s, of course, be patient with yourself and take the steps you can, but they are so big and so overwhelming and behaviour changes can be

 

 

extraordinarily traumatic

 

 

trauma that I’ve had

 

Bryn 

with trauma, the trauma, actually, trauma is a feature of something you were mentioning earlier, I’ll just pop this in quickly in that you talk about what is it going to be like when the US and the UK you’re allowed back that the fear of another lockdown is subsided. being told to you know, having your whole way of life stopped and mentored you and stay inside because of whatever whether it’s, you know, an invading force or an invading molecule, or you know, it is traumatic, alright. And any event of that nature means that whilst you’re in that, traumatised, you’re going, you’re going to close, right, your sympathetic nervous system is going to fire up, you’re gonna be scanning, you’d be hyper vigilant, you’ve been looking for threats, we are not going to be into exploratory conversations with people about what could happen and where can we go and how can you know it’s today. And it’s that and that is going to take a lot of time to do that, and open up again. So when you go home, when I go home, we’re probably going to be quite traumatising. Because it’s like, Emma, bring the light what I remember I used to be so there will be sadness around that.

 

 

Well, and it will be, it’d be traumatising.

 

 

It’ll be I just, that’s just too much. And just no, or by.

 

Emma Gibbens 

But I mean, a positive out of this is that consent for getting each other spices has become so much more explicit and known. And as a woman, like I’m very thankful for that, you know, because how many situations are you forced into a handshake or a, you know, a kiss or a hug at a networking event? You haven’t met someone and you feel awkward, like boundaries? But it is it’s a it’s an it’s an opportunity, like for consent to become an explicit practice across all of our social interactions, which I think is not the invitation. Yeah. Because I think that’s and I think those of us with privilege from educated, predominantly white backgrounds. Consent doesn’t feel like it applies to us because of course, we’re the nice ones or whatever. And I think it’s a really good check on our privilege to understand that that consent and so I, you know, I am Yes, it will be traumatising going over there and being like, look at how vibrant I read things as well. And the challenge for me will remember to remember to step into a respectful space of consent and asking my friends and family like, Hey, what are you okay with, because the norms have obviously changed, and, and even now, I’m just more aware of the norms, even if they have changed or not, it’s still Yeah, boundaries. Yeah, exactly. Boundaries. And so connection and boundaries. Hey, that’s an interesting thing that’s coming up. I wonder if your tie like there’s a lovely phrase, I always think of like, in order for a kite to fly, it must be tied down. So with constraints and discipline enables creativity and imagination is where in the context that I read it. But I wonder if boundaries and connection having boundaries allows us to connect as our full selves, because we have established pathways that are comfortable for us to be fully who we are without expectation. Welcome to my TED Talk. No, I’m just kidding. Yeah, I’ve already given a TED talk. So we have a second TED Talk.

 

 

Yes, it’s gonna get it down to 18 minutes.

 

Emma Gibbens 

10 words or less? Oh, no. 12 minutes, 10 minutes. That’s a 10 minute idea.

 

Bryn 

And then you got to do all the hand signals with it. It’s quite robotic. And there you go. Enjoy this,

 

Emma Gibbens 

where two four here yet? Um, yes, I am. I have quite a lot of thoughts banging around in my head. I am 14 I have to have a group of friends where I get to have these conversations regularly and my ideas grow and develop it quite iterative and rapid right? So I’m really thankful for that. I’m always thankful for new platforms to share these ideas and new people to speak with. Have I enjoyed this conversation? I am I I’m questioning is this interesting? I my first podcast experience and like, I think having conversations for the sake of conversing is important. And something I’m you know, but I’m so used to structuring conversations towards a goal or towards an objective or in a direction in which AI is part of a theory of change. And so it’s interesting to be having a free phone conversation in a semi structured and public way. Without those underlying objectives. I think that’s the, the part where I’m questioning have I enjoyed it has it’s been really an efficient use of my time towards the greater good, and towards my passion, like, you know, whatever. Yes, I think

 

 

it’s been interesting because

 

Emma Gibbens 

checking over analyse dancer.

 

Bryn 

And it’s been interesting conversing with you, because I have felt that, you know, as I have openly moved the podcast towards what I refer to as emergent conversations, which means that, you know, if you’d seen the amount of notes that I had for the first 30 4050 episodes will either on an iPad Mini, and be like scrolling into, but now they just get less and less and less, and, and it’s a faith in it’s a faith in human connection and conversation, that something will emerge. And it’s no more difficult than that. And without the pressure of swords, this may be enough to go. know, it’s interesting. So

 

Emma Gibbens 

I just want to riff off that really quickly. Because without objective, we can actually settle into the conversation flow, which is a bit of an art that’s been lost, like, how do you deeply in genuinely Listen, not just to speak Next is the obvious trip, but also not to, like, hedge the conversation in a direction you want to go? I mean, I did that a bit today, where I’m like, here’s a, here’s the thing I want to take us to, and it’s a bit of a downturn, but like, you know, listening for the flow of the conversation and what’s the what’s not being said and where to go to in that sense. And so without objective, it allows us to settle into the the free form and the deeper listening.

 

Bryn 

And it allows the conversation as a third party. Go so rather than so I need to put my button and then you need to put your button

 

 

Yeah, passing Yeah, playing tennis.

 

Bryn 

And there’s also our minds like endings, we like things to come from start to finish. If I was to throw this pen up in the air, your, your whole perception of it will be Illa T’s until such time as it’s returned back to my hand again. It’s like because now his journey is finished. And so we like particularly in our rational Western Anglosphere culture, we like start finishes and endings, containers,

 

Emma Gibbens 

no injuries. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

Which, again, you know, recognise that nice boundaries, containers, but then recognise that, that butts up against another one, which puts up another one. You know, I put out a funny meme the other day on Instagram about a woman who decides to live in the moment was disappointed by the fact that other moments got in the way.

 

Emma Gibbens 

It is. I mean, it is difficult having a freeform day with no plan in some ways. Yeah, well, I mean, I am I’ve gotten better. I’ve been practising that over the last year and a half intentionally. So I’ve been practising. But it’s it probably it because that underlying, I am only valuable if I’m being productive.

 

Bryn 

You know, there’s a story.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah, there’s a huge story. And then we’ve been conditioned to believe that feel that and live that live to that expectation. So if I spend a Saturday with no plan, what am I going to do? And and I’m now interpreting that question into that deeper, how I’m reinterpreting that question to be a motivator for me to do the things that interest me is, who am I? How am I choosing to use my time

 

 

that we were around that This conversation when the circuit breaker forced us to be with us.

 

Emma Gibbens 

I don’t know how to manufacture that for and it was like a, I don’t know how to manufacture that for people. And I don’t know how to scale it. And I don’t know how to, I don’t think you can force people into that place, it can only arrive themselves. And so like, I think COVID has been helpful in getting whomever was like the low hanging fruit into that journey. And I don’t know what percentage of the population that is, you know, like, it’s something I don’t know, I’m sure you worry about this as well. Like, how much in the minority? Am I, as someone who doesn’t watch a lot of TV reads a lot of books has a lot of conversations like, Alright, how, you know, is it only 10% of us? 3% 40%? No idea. I’ve surrounded myself in that bubble. And now, you go out and you see other bubbles, and you’re like, Nah, saw the other half lives? Not quite.

 

Bryn 

Interesting. So the last question I ask all my guests, is hypothetical one. Which is, if you could upload one question into the collective consciousness, so everyone just sat quietly for five or 10 minutes and considered it or jam detailed? What would that be?

 

Emma Gibbens 

flipping me was like, crunchy or smooth peanut butter? No, I’m just kidding. Um, I think we’ve, we’ve posed a number of good questions today. In the, a lot of my friends, you know, come to me for advice when trying to seek purpose driven work. And in the context of if AI takes away all the if machines and AI take away all the basic stuff that humans do, and it frees up a whole bunch of the job market, people are left with that question. What do I do that I love? are like what what is purpose work look like for me, cuz I don’t need to do these grunt tasks. The question I always put forward is what am i uniquely positioned to do? So it’s both like, what am I uniquely positioned? who you are, where you come from, what interests you what you surround yourself with your influence of power, and then to do or the things you love doing that you’re good at that you need to thrive with? So that’s the question I always put forward kind of a cheeks I’m using one I already use a lot. But I’ll go with that one. In the in the in the hopeful indera that someday, yeah. All humans can do purpose driven work. And we can all just contribute in this generosity economy, where we’re doing things we love. And so everything is cared for, like that’s the opposite of consumerism and this consumption based environment that we’re in a generosity system. Boy, do we feel far from that sometimes. But other times feel very close to it. So by nothing groups, a great method of generosity systems. Yeah. Anyway.

 

Bryn 

Fascinating. Yeah, I really value that

 

Emma Gibbens 

same same or different from a lot of your time. I’m sure you lots of different people. So

 

Bryn 

yeah, it’s very difficult to describe, to compare. And as I said, because the emerging nature of Dr. Adapt, yeah. The podcast itself. Hmm. You know, compare this to Episode Five arbitrarily picked completely worlds apart. Yeah. It’s been great to be present in the conversation,

 

Emma Gibbens 

huh? Yeah. So it’s always fun to bash ideas with and fellow like, I’m really appreciate you obviously have spoken to quite a lot of thought leaders, because you have very lovely turns of phrase and like summaries of big complex ideas, which I always appreciate, sort of, because obviously talking to experts and being around that environment and learning and thinking through it yourself. Only then can you think, say it simply. So I’ve always, I always appreciate sharing space with people who are like, Hey, we can sum up that concept with six words, and we’re moving on. Okay, great. Yeah, like, it’s quite fun,

 

 

because we did that. And another because we’ve done I’ve gone on that process, because we’ve done that in another podcast for an hour and a half there. So we’re not gonna do the other half hour and a half ago. Yeah, so people want to find you and they want to.

 

Emma Gibbens 

I have a website Emma Gibbons, calm gi BB ns, with a form in an email. Facebook, Instagram. Emma Gibbons, not o nS?

 

 

Yeah, yeah. Well, it’ll be hopefully correctly spelled in the title of this podcast.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah. Yeah. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m who I am and what I do. So don’t judge my platforms for not having consistent messaging or you know, branding, I’m actively embracing the grey in that space and not trying to put myself forward as in the Gibbons. blahdy blahdy, blah, expert, while trying to be emergent in that on that thing.

 

Bryn 

Yes, because it is an emerging thing. All right, then. To view

 

Emma Gibbens 

how we participate in the world, and it’s also like for someone like me who’s done, again, I have a portfolio of strange experiences is my career. You know, I struggle between saying the thing I want to say is what I do and what people will understand or what’s the nice box that people can put it into, you know, sort of balancing between those

 

Bryn 

two compensation to it once it’s good.

 

Emma Gibbens 

Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, sorry. Thank you.

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