Global Chit-Chat and the Norwegian Isolationist
The argument is that you aren't actually living doing what you're doing right now -- sitting in front of your computer browsing social media connections and reading someone's blog. But I say that life happens when you're busy making plans… like when you accidentally bump into someone you haven't seen for ages at the coffee shop, or when you get dragged to a party and meet the woman of your dreams.
Chit-chat and random connections make us who we are -- if you live on three miles of dirt, going to work, going to the store, seeing the same people all the time, your life is going to be limited by those three miles of dirt. Bring in the Internet and you can take a trip without ever leaving the farm.
I love the fact that I can Skype with a friend in the UK from my cell phone while I'm walking down the street -- just like I'd call any friend in town. Or, rather, just like I'd call anyone in the country -- area codes don't matter anymore, just as distance doesn't matter.
With international text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, and all the other ways we instantly communicate we have entered the age of the Globalization of chit-chat, and the je ne se quoi of life is in the chit-chat.
Now bring in the isolationists. The horrible bombings and shootings over the weekend by Anders Behring stem from the fact that he feels Norway is becoming too multicultural and that his culture is disappearing because there are just too many foreigners around.
When he walks to the corner coffee shop or goes to the market, he's forced to see other people's ways of doing things, people of different colors, and people who believe things that he doesn't. He just wants Norway to be Norway and stop letting the rest of the world in.
Unfortunately for him, the world is already in. It's in our phones, it's in our TVs, it's in our computers, it's in our casual, day-to-day connections.
Yes, this means that Norwegian culture (and any other culture on the planet) is going to change. But multicultural change is inevitable -- we've always sent our explorers out and had travelers come through and they leave a little of their culture behind. ('Oriental noodles in Italy? Preposterous!').
And just as I can buy and receive a book instantly from a company in Seattle, written by a man in Sri Lanka while I sit by a pool in the Caribbean, it's not just that change is inevitable, but the speed is picking up. Think of the Internet as a high-speed delivery system of multiculturalism.
I would hope that people could find the joy in connecting with friends around the world, but just as we've sent our explorers and greeted travelers, we've sent our armies and fought invaders. If that change is speeding up, it's a bitter fact that the people who don't like change are going to see this global revolution not as spices from India and silk from China, but as barbarians at the gate.
Except, the barbarians have always been on that three miles of dirt. We just need to keep an eye out locally as well as on our phones, TVs and computers…