Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Our Global Network

Over and over again I am reminded of how important the Internet has become for me. Sky and I were watching a video on the BBC News website the other day about a couple in France who were celebrating their 78th wedding anniversary. They were both 100 years old and both seemed to be in good health. They were bright-eyed and lively. I don’t know how agile the husband was, as he remained seated throughout the short clip but the wife jumped up and went into the kitchen and seemed far more agile than some 80-year-olds I have met.
That got us thinking and talking about what it might be like if and when we get to that age. And that in turn made me think about what a vitally important role the Internet playes in my life – and has done for some years now.
We live in a fairly isolated, rural area and (by choice) have very few visitors. We have various activities that take us out and about but we also spend a lot of time at home. We absolutely adore the peace and quiet of our little cottage.
Yet I always feel totally surrounded by friends and acquaintances. I talk on the e-mail with people all over the world. I join in global discussions on all manner of things. I meet new and interesting people in cyberspace every single day. Often, I have the experience of discovering someone thousands of miles away who has so many of the same ideas and feelings as me that it feels like we must have known each other in some past life or something!
It is true that globalization – e.g. the globalization of trade and of entertainment -- poses huge dangers to many of the world’s cultures. Languages and customs that used to make a group of people unique are being lost, replaced by a mass-marketing consumer culture that flattens everything out and gradually turns the rainbow colours of our human tribes to monochrome sameness. Yet there is also this other thing that is happening. Thanks to the globalization of communication, people are reaching out, finding others from faraway places whom they would otherwise never had met, interacting, interconnecting. Nobody need ever feel lonely any more.
Even as I strive to minimise, in my own life, the effects of trade globalization, such as unnecessary imports (why import apples to UK when they grow so well here?), ‘food miles’ and so on, this other kind of global connectivity is one that I heartily welcome.
When we talked about how it might be to be 100, I said that there is only one thing I fear about it. And that is the fear of losing my ability to log on.

1 comment:

Patty said...

I too love the smallness of the world through the use of the internet, but how I love the fireside chats with others. To reach out and hug a friend, grasp a hand, and to what I call, "grind wheat together" as a group of women. Working together on a single project, talking, sharing the wisdom of years with the younger ones. To dance around our evening fire pit in the summer months or sing funny songs together with friends. There is a need for peace and to be able to sit in silence but there is also a need to sing silly songs by the fire. In the cyber world it is all on our terms, not much give and take needed, so few lessons have to be taken on, but in the world of actual community, be it family, friends or both, tolerance is a daily lesson that stretches our compassion and patience.