Last night on the bike path I passed a well-dressed citizen, walking along with a bottle of water. I was stunned to see him finish his water and hurl the bottle into the woods.
I stopped and said, "Hey, please don't do that."
He looked at me with complete surprise and said, "what?" as if he didn't understand what 'that' was. His conception of the world seemed to be that there was two kinds of stuff… his and not-his. The park wasn't his, so it was just fine to throw trash, in fact, why not?
The challenge we have in the connection economy, in a world built on ever more shared resources and public digital spaces is that some people persist in acting like it belongs to someone else. When they spit in the pool or troll anonymously, when they spam or break things, it's as if they're doing it to someone else, or to the man.
Too often, we accept this vandalism as if it's a law of nature, like dealing with the termites that will inevitably chew exposed wood on a house's foundation. It doesn't have to be this way. Over and over, we see that tribes and communities and organizations are able to teach people that this is ours, that it's worth taking care of and most of all, that people like us care for things like this.