In "the days of old" we find a society where individuals are set up across a divide, a broad ravine. On one side we have the class A individuals. Priests, ruling bodies of people, tribal consulars, shamans, etc. On the other side of the divide we see the average populace, living in a somewhat dwindling manner compared to their counterparts which have achieved much more within their lifetimes.
Over the many years (thousands), though specifically in the last couple of centuries, I see that society, especially in the developed countries, is shifting more toward an attitude that promotes an equality of ability and intelligence. Instead of having the Class A individuals and the Class F individuals, we see much more of "Class C" constituents, somewhere in between. Most of us have probably noticed this.
What brought this to the fore of my mind, specifically, was a book I saw at the store tonight about the Net Generation. To sum up relevant portions, it showed the differences between generations X and Y. The former being considered along the lines of the baby boomer generation and Y as those growing up in the 90s, or thereabouts. In the first generation we have an emphasis on solidarity, self-reliance, a "static-based" mind (learn everything you need and remember it for the long term). In the second generation, mine, we have an opposing interest in fluidity, collaboration, and a dynamic mind where information is switched in and out modularly as it is needed.
A few implications of this scenario have come to my mind. As time passes and the attitude of this latter generation Y becomes more prevalent, what kind of changes will we see? Economic status, intelligence, independence, personal ability (e.g. apart from a group of like-minded others). In ancient times we saw a large number of individuals who could be identified as polymaths or geniuses in the classic sense of the word. Nowadays, there's much more a tendency to specialize into a nook of one field. What impact will this have on society? Will we have a lack of "pioneers" in the future, who could be said to invent a large portion of important information on their own?
Here's a poll based on the above dump of thoughts: Which would you prefer, a society (Society A) where individuals are not limited by a lockstep integration with the society around them, where they have a greater chance to fail, but also a chance to greater success. Or would you prefer a society (Society B) where there is a modicum, a medium, many "Class C" individuals collaborating as a group.
I find myself in the former category, with Society A, seeking a pioneering, individualistic mindset apart from those around me. It seems that I feel somewhat out of my time period, considering this. I like the thrill of having great things to gain or to lose, sort of like a pirate I guess! Arrrr!
The benefits of Society B is that it offers a larger safety net for the lower classes. The caveat and the detriment is that as the lower classes rise, the upper classes fall. And as the upper classes fall, they take their ability to help those around them flourish.
(Please, let's not make this into a singular discussion on economics. That's not what I'm looking for here. Although, you can make allusions to economics if you wish to prove your point.)