The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Global Village, Not Global House

Robert Cummins

Posted on February 18, 2017 17:50

0 user

How did a medium that connects the world end up dividing it?

We are already two months into 2017, and yet people are still jaded and bewildered by the events of the previous year. In thinking about the cascade of incidences and disruptions that occurred, my mind keeps going back to the idea of a global village.

Decades before the Web, Marshall McLuhan coined this term to describe the future of media as being like a worldwide community of closely connected individuals. It was an enormously prescient idea, as it predicts the Internet as we know it today.

The term, and the Internet itself, seem to conjure up ideas of a global, transparent, borderless society. However, many of the pivotal events of 2016 were not in defense of these ideals, but in defiance of them. Marine le Pen, Trump, Brexit, Theresa May, the Alt Right - these figures and movements were energized and arguably brought into being by the Internet. Yet, they appear to conflict with the very fabric of the medium.

This all seems very counterintuitive. Why would a medium that instantaneously connects the world also encourage nationalism, sovereignty, and a divisive, leave-me-alone mentality?

I think one reason is that the Internet is just as much a projection into the future as it is a window into history. It is a new medium, but it incorporates all of the old ones. Discarded philosophies and political theories have been resurrected and easily discoverable with sites like Google Books and Archive.com. Thus, a sense of culture and identity can easily crystallize, and beget the events of 2016.

However, I believe the real reason is much simpler. The reaction that occurred in the previous year is not in conflict with the Internet at all. The world that the Internet creates is simultaneously more connected yet more insular. Individuals from across the world can communicate to each other without ever leaving their rooms - incredible, but the reality is that they are still in their rooms. By way of illustration, the Internet is not like a blank sheet of paper without folds or breaks, but like brain cells that are linked yet separated. 

This is understandable. People who have been enchanted by the global village idea, or ideas like it, have perhaps forgotten that although a village is close and communal, its citizens still prefer that their houses have walls. This state of affairs is not so bad to me. I would rather live in a village with a million different houses than share one house with a million different people. 

Robert Cummins

Posted on February 18, 2017 17:50

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

Car dealers are holding fast in the new age of digital marketing. Even as the industry rushes into a more Internet-based...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest