Yes, I hark on this point often: social capital is a form of currency.
While money is the currency most recognized in commercial transactions, alone it’s flat, bland and doesn’t tell the whole truth of an exchange and engagement. Nothing wrong with it. It does its job. It allows for transactions and exchanges, particularly when relationships of trust don’t exist, and sometimes when they do.
Yet there is another form of currency, one rising in power and influence, particularily these past six-seven years, and one that helps distribute wealth to a larger group of people, and that’s the currency of one’s social capital. In looking at generations and in understanding that each generation forms and is formed by the surrounding generations and the cultural era in which it sits at whatever phase of life its in, I’ll bring forward again the claim that the Millennial generation (the Hero archetype and those born 1982-2004ish) will always “fight” for the “right to a middle-class existence.” They may not know this thought consciously, but they feel it deep within their individual and collective spirits. They are The Common Man, The Average Joe, generation (as much as they’ve been raised to be special … go figure).
GenXers, now in mid-life, trust no institutions, particularly not monetary, government institutions, and they feel instinctively that the primary wealth that matters is the skills, connections and resources that can be moved in a moment’s notice … things that travel with them. And that makes sense because GenXers are the Nomad archetype, per Strauss and Howe’s work.
Social capital can take many forms: an introduction for a job opportunity or a date, bending some rules as a favor to someone to give them a break, encouraging acquaintances to try a new product or business service and many, many other forms. In particular, an area where I tread is as a party host. I host lots of parties, notably and recently with a bent for connecting local bloggers with readers, civil servants, politicians, reporters and everyday folk in the community.
These parties, while in some sense, I can do, figuratively, with my eyes closed, do take time and e-f-f-o-r-t. But the thing that makes them considerably easier for me is when a business (usually a restaurant) approaches me wanting to do the parties. Wanting to have the bloggers and readers at their venue. The energetic difference between having to explain, convince and sell someone vs simply organizing, planning and hosting a party is huge. And the easier the parties are for me to host, the more (quantity, type and frequency) I can host.
So to all of you who take the five minutes to tweet and use the venue’s correct Twitter handle (so that they can see and witness your social capital in action), or to upload a photo to Instagram and tag it well, or to like the venue’s Facebook page and write a comment of thanks for their generosity in hosting us … and particularily for those of you who blog and take the time to write a post about a party, bless you and thank you. It’s an honor and joy to host the parties and to help people connect, and it’s not my show … it’s our event. I may be the organizer, but without the ecosystem of which you’re a part, it would be flat, bland and just another party.
Amen for us!
Here are some examples of local parties and social capital currency.