Tuesday, January 22, 2013

'Imagine there's no Countries'

'It isn't hard to do'

When John Lennon wrote these words in 1971, I am pretty sure that he was not thinking of a future where the world would be connected via a massive digital network, giving us the opportunity to break down traditional geographic and political boundaries in the way that we are seeing in the twenty-tens.

Our world is shrinking rapidly
© Kadal - Fotolia.com
Through the magic of social media I interact with people from a myriad of different countries, cultures, religions and beliefs. In some cases our governments are, to say the least, not friends. But that does not impact on our ability to build relationships and share thoughts.

Between all my networks I reach over 100 countries (gave up counting there). I did want to show you a geographic representation of my combined networks, but it seems that no-one has come up with that tool as yet (at least not that I could find in my quick search), so you will just have to take my word for it.

A few years ago events like the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, the US Presidential debates, President Obama's inauguration speech, flooding in Jakarta, earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan would just have been simple news stories to me, read, reacted to and then dismissed as they did not concern me directly. But now these events do concern me, they affect my friends and colleagues. I feel as much outrage and compassion as I would if these events were happening in my own backyard.

I converse with people even when we don't share a common language (thank you Google translate, even with all your little quirks). I talk with people whose belief system is radically different to my own, but whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Anarchist, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu or any other flavour, in my social world it doesn't count...mind you I will 'turn off' my connections when you repeatedly share beliefs that offend me, I am not quite that  tolerant yet!

I have been party to forum discussions where participants from Egypt, Israel and the Middle East have all been freely communicating. I share insights with ITSM professionals in Iraq. While governments may be at war, the social world is not.

Is this all a good thing though? In my recent readings I have seen distress at the 'homogenisation' of our world. Are we all getting so connected and sharing so much that we are losing our own cultural identity and replacing it with a culture of global citizenship? Is that a bad thing? What is the landscape going to look like in 100 years, or even 50 years?

I used to be irritated by 'American spelling' but, of late, of I have come to the conclusion that it just doesn't matter. I can read and understand what is written, so why should it matter if you use a 'z' and I use an 's'. In this case familiarity breeds acceptance.

Our individual worlds are growing exponentially, and merging rapidly. I like it! Maybe we are getting closer to a world with 'no countries', I fear that 'no religion, too', may be a lot further off.

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