The technology around us is amazing! Seemingly, it solves problems, addresses issues and moves humanity forward. Citizen journalists are using technology to capture moments in American history, for the better and worse. People like the innovators at Not Impossible Labs have used 3D printers in Africa to create low cost robotic prosthetic for the children of the war torn southern Sudan. A young Maasai boy used solar technology to protect his village from lions and keep them from encroaching on villagers’ living space, ultimately keeping the people safe and the lions from being killed. That’s all pretty amazing! Right? No, it isn’t the technology but the people behind it. The people working together and wielding it that are amazing and that’s one of the primary lessons in Netflix’s latest Lego series, “Bionicle: Journey To One.”
Lego Bionicle: Journey To One follows six heroes, the Toa, who fight against the evil Makuta’s forces which are threatening the beautiful island of Okoto. But, it goes much deeper than that! These six heroes must learn to work together and work with their “spirit animals” despite the fact that they have powerful technology at their fingertips. The technology alone isn’t enough and they find that out as they battle to protect their island, while finding various power masks which augment their powers. Their powers are tied to the island and each hero draws their strength from an element of the island. The heroes and their elements are:
- Tahu, Uniter of Fire
- Pohatu, Uniter of Stone
- Onua, Uniter of Earth
- Lewa, Uniter of Jungle
- Kopaka, Uniter of Ice
- Gali, Uniter of Water
What I really liked about what the Lego Bionicle: Journey To One series taught was the notion that teamwork and working in harmony with your environment is very important to achieving your goals. Given the current state of our nation and our culture’s fascination with technology itself and not the people and teams creating it, I think the lessons in the series are timely. It’s part of the well-rounded thinking that I believe the Lego brand teaches, or instills in its fans. From the building blocks which help children with their spatial relations, to the Mindstorm kits which give children early programming skills and cultivates in them the critical thinking skills necessary to be solid computer scientists and software engineers, this is good mental “food.”
There are power items like the Golden Masks of Unity which will help the Toa along their way and the elemental creatures which I referred to as their “spirit animals” but, just as in life, things aren’t quite so simple. Each warrior must form a bond with their elemental creature so they can work together and reach their full potential – I don’t want to spoil how that works- and so it goes with us and our children. I recently gave a talk at Safer Internet Day 2016 to a room of a few hundred Los Angeles middle and high schoolers, and the point of my speech to them was that the tech around them isn’t awesome, that their “superpower,” their awesomesauce is found in unity. In brother/sisterhood. It’s found in them connecting, and caring, and working together as a team to accomplish great things. Whether those great things are for a neighbor, a community, or the world, no matter how big or how small, when we care about those that are closest to us and focus on human interaction and not human to tech interaction, then tech just becomes a tool and humans become that which amazes. iPhones will be dated, obsolescent almost as soon as they’re sitting on store shelves but the friendships we build and the memories we make will endure long after our rechargeable batteries have given up their last charge cycle. Long after we deem our iPhone 6S no longer fun to use because of its cracked screen.
So too do the Toa learn that it is only through their connection to each other that they find true power. But the road isn’t an easy one and there are many lessons they’ll learn along the way. Lessons that are great conversation starters for families with younger children. Conversations about our environment, our connection to it and our ability to think sustainably in how we use it. Conversations about what really is important in a culture that promotes consumption. All age-appropriate of course. So, check out Lego Bionicle: Journey To One on Netflix now, as all episodes are available for streaming.
Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team, I’ve been provided perks for contributing content. That means this is a sponsored post, but that doesn’t mean that I’m schilling my integrity. I don’t take my time to write anything I wouldn’t want to read myself, or that I think doesn’t add some value for my readership.