The events occurring around the world at present has led me to wonder about the detriments of inter-web connectivity. In 2016, over 40% of the world was online, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The world is more connected, more informed about the world, and seemingly, more afraid, angry, and in distress.
There appears to be polarized action -the more unified some parts of the world are, the opposite divisive action is also present. The reasons for this are beyond the scope of my writing, and I suspect are deep and complex. Nonetheless, this antipodal shift that is widening the gap between groups of people worldwide is remarkable, concerning, and leaves one with a sense that you want to hop off a moving train heading towards free fall – or a free-for-all anarchy movement.
The irony of being more polarized as we become more globalized suggests that the transition to increased global connection needs to be examined. Historically, societies that have rapid economic growth find its people struggling with the changes accompany the transition — even it is a positive one. The rapid growth in China’s economy in recent decades was correlated with increased suicides and victimization by scam artists. High incidents of suicide was also found when South Korea’s economy began to grow decades ago. Recent changes in South African governance has also led to murders and discord among South Africans. The support of American leadership of more unifying, equalizing values in eight years of an administration was also related to subsequent rise of xenophobia and a return to racist, bigoted ideology.
Having more interactions with the “other” as a result of globalization has helped many increase empathy and a sense of understanding for people we have misunderstood, prejudged, and/or simply disliked prior to knowing them. Yet people around the world, while more connected through various means made possible by the internet, seem to be turning toward localization and tribalism. To see an example of this, we just have to consider the evolution of our food source in the past 5-10 years — there’s been a shift away from exported and mass produced goods to sourcing locally.
Is this just a pendulum swing? Will we ever land in the middle? I cannot feign to have erudite commentary about what may be best for global society and what a balanced pendulum would even entail but it seems to me that injustice, indecency, and lack of dignity toward any group of people is a bad idea. After all, there really hasn’t been a time in the history of humanity where the entire world was at peace. Intergenerational suffrage, movement toward redemption, and fear of scarcity has defined our history. One can only hope that with increased access to information and to one another that we do not self destruct faster, too.
I am all for free speech and free expression but maybe too much internet freedom is damaging – more than we realize.
I welcome any comments. These are my Sunday musings.