"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
George Bernard Shaw
Every major technological step forward has profoundly changed human society – that's how we know they're major, even if we don't always realise it at the time. Farming created cities. Writing, followed eventually by printing, vastly increased the preservation and transmission of cultural information across time and space. Now we stand at the beginning of the greatest synergy yet between human beings and their innovations – the reinvention of Homo sapiens from the inside out by our own science. To paraphrase JBS Haldane's famous remark about the universe, the future won't be merely stranger than you imagine, it will be stranger than you can imagine.
We are social animals, but as the dangers of being different have diminished since we started (the presence of large predators can do a lot to compel uniformity) individualism has become a greater and greater force in our societies and ourselves. Modern technology is one big reason, and two very powerful forces are now rapidly altering the dynamics of self-versus-society – monofocus and the transfer of allegiance from vertical societies to more fluid, horizontal groups.
Kurt Vonnegut, in his wonderful novel Cat's Cradle, invented a religion that defined human relationships as either karasses or granfalloons, the former being true connections between people, the others being largely false or irrelevant, like physical proximity of birth, or skin colour.
Many nations and religions started as shared ideas, even as true horizontal social groups, but as those institutions grew and changed, the agreements between people began to blur. In America, liberal Christians have more in common with liberal atheists than they do with their fundamentalist Christian brethren – so what's an "American Christian"? But a bluegrass fan always likes bluegrass music, whether he or she lives in Tennessee or Tunisia. An idea without official borders can shift to fit the changing expectations of its adherents. Nations and religions are a lot less flexible.
But even as we re-jig our loyalties toward more personal interests like green politics, gun ownership, buying and restoring old furniture, or following international lacrosse, and we build political coalitions across national and other boundaries, the rapid changes in technology will allow us to do more than merely share information. We will soon be able to share first-person points of view, vision, and sounds. With improvements in haptic technology (virtual touch) we'll even be able to share how things actually feel. If you're interested in mountaineering, soon you'll be able to walk in the trudging footsteps of a sherpa as he summits Mount Everest. You'll freefall with skydivers, and talk to Amazon river indigenes as though you were there. And you'll be able to stand with protesters in the streets and see and experience what they do, from thousands of miles away.
The change in perspective won't stop there. Technological shifts are moving us closer to our own physical selves as well.
Data hunter gatherers
Smart phones are only a technological way-station, although they will linger well into the late century (and find unexpected uses in less wealthy areas. In the industrialised world, we'll move toward increasingly personalised methods of carrying our computing power around with us. By the middle of the 21st Century, even if we haven't got direct neural shunts yet (pace Cyberpunk), smart goggles and lenticular implants and other input/output devices will probably have replaced phones for most tech-current users. So not only will your entire peer group be in your head, as a future First Worlder, you won't even have to be a hypochondriac to have a full-time physical picture of your health at every single moment – heart rhythms, organ function, blood sugar, even neural fitness – not to mention access to instant medical feedback. If you have chronic problems, you'll control them with implants in your body to regulate arrhythmia and hormonal deficiencies or other manageable maladies without the need for a doctor's visit.