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Collective consciousness is a term I have heard in many conversations in and around Byron Shire for most of my life. It is not some hippie free love term that was created during the Aquarius festival in Nimbin in the late 60s, but a technical term that refers to how any given individual comes to view them self as a part of any given group. The term has been used by social theorists/psychoanalysts such as Durkheim, Althusser, and Jung, to explain how an autonomous individual comes to identify with a larger group/structure, often through collaboration and contribution to a community; effectively, how they come to “belong”.

Byron Bay has a very strong collective consciousness. It is in fact the pulse of our community. The diversity and abundance of smaller communities within Byron Bay makes the community unique, and unlike anywhere else on the planet. Just spend a little time here, and you will soon see the way each person, each group, each tribe and each community is aware of the other, and how they interact and feed off of each other’s often radically different needs and possibilities.

Byron was once a small seaside town, financially sustained by Norco, a whaling station, an abattoir, sand mining and a fledgling surfing industry, where everyone knew everyone else. Through word of mouth Byron Bay became a world famous tourism destination, known for its unique and beautiful landscapes, and the charm of its ever vibrant, diverse and dynamic community.

Our sense of community, like our community itself, is constantly changing and evolving. It changes daily, almost in front of our eyes. Technology, in the last 10 years has created a new collective consciousness paradigm, enabling a truly global society; which allows us to extend our community beyond any border. “We are now sharing a collective mind” the love child of the Internet – the Social Media Network.  And where better for a love child to grow and thrive than in a community such as we have here in Byron Bay? The Social Media Network, this new global collectiveness tool, compliments and augments our own collective consciousness.

When my father Max Pendergast was a man in his 20s, surfing The Pass in the early 1960’s, the thought would not have even entered his head that one day ‘surfing’ would have a whole new meaning. Nor I am sure would he have believed for one second that he could be talking to me through a laptop computer, real time, from an island in the middle of the South Pacific, whilst I was sitting in my office in Australia. He could not have fathomed the idea of sharing real time video, photographs, music, and conversation from wherever he was in the world, whenever he wanted to.

Communities that collaborate and communicate through, and take advantage of technology are the new thought leaders. Where we once lived in a community that recommended products and services through “word of mouth”, the term is now “world of mouth”, and businesses in particular that are not keeping up will be left in the dust wondering what just happened.

We have the world at our fingertips. Our family, friends, colleagues, and customers are all online, all connected and all talking through the collective mind that we call Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and YouTube, among some of the many and varied social media out there on the Internet. For every single person that travels through Byron Bay in the 18-40 age group, the most preferred method of communication with their friends and family ‘back home’, the is Social Media Network. This is a fact. An exciting fact full of possibilities.

Oxford University Studies have proven that the brain is wired to a point that it can only competently manage 150 friendships at a time, so using that number 150 as a minimum amount of connections each person has on Social Media networks, multiplied by that number of people travelling through Byron Bay each year, we quickly end up with a number in the 10s of millions.  And all these people are being exposed either directly, or indirectly to the wonder of our Byron Bay. The power of Social Media Networks means that images of our little seaside home can become the two minute day dream vacation for a lawyer at work in New York City, viewing photographs and videos posted to Facebook, or Twitter, or FlickR or any number of social media applications, by a friend who is actually in Byron Bay surfing at The Pass, and living the experience that now becomes a priority on the holiday wish list of our lawyer friend in New York.  And this all happens literally in a nanosecond.

As with all communities around the world, satellite communities that provide support services spring up and flourish. This is the same with the Internet and the Social Media Network. The Internet provides an environment where our lawyer friend in New York, after seeing what a great time his friend is having in Byron Bay, can go ahead and book flights and accommodation, buy travel insurance and even a new pair of boardies, and come on over.

Like our own Byron Bay, the Social Media Network is growing organically and exponentially. Growing and flourishing, feeding off its own creativity and innovation. Inclusive, inspiring and dynamic.  The opportunities for utilizing the same talents that have helped create a place such as Byron Bay, to leverage the unlimited possibilities of the Social Media Network, are limited only by our imaginations.

And we all know that here, in our magical corner of the Universe, the imaginations are boundless.