The world is shrinking.

Actually, it already shrunk. We live on a tiny planet and it’s getting smaller all the time.

In the 21st Century we’ve come to expect and demand:

  • ubiquitous internet access
  • free international telephone and video calls (thank you Skype)
  • relatively inexpensive (although uncomfortable) flights to every major city on the planet – direct – with daily service
  • GPS services to navigate with
  • free  email, photo sharing, and blog posting services
  • free entertainments like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etcetera
  • the ability to shop 24 hours a day, internationally (many times with free shipping)
  • the ability to pay for something online, quickly and seamlessly
  • the ability to download any song, book, movie, or podcast we want within seconds
  • and that thing we haven’t heard of yet that someone is cooking up in their garage with some buddies that will be something we can’t live without in another 2 years

We have a ridiculous amount of conveniences available to us that were not even a glimmer in someone’s eye one or two decades ago.

Maybe I’m more in tune with these things because I live in the New York City metro area. I’d concede it’s possible I wouldn’t feel the rapid shrinking of the globe if I lived on the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. But in big cities, like New York, you can’t go one foot without bumping into someone talking on a cell phone, texting, writing on a laptop, sending an email from their device of choice, taking a photo with a device of choice, all while being oblivious of the technology or its infrastructure.

Think about it, really- who cares – I need to send a text message to my friend, I type it, click send and expect him to get it within seconds because that’s how it works… OR I call my friend’s cell phone from my international Skype number while I am in Europe and he is in New York City and of course I expect the phone call quality to be great because that’s how it works. Nobody is thinking about Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology (that’s what allows phone calls to be made over the interwebs, if ya didn’t know…) or the ridiculous amount of super cool infrastructure in place to allow all this to happen in real time, super cheap, or even free.

As much as these technologies can become intrusive, with all the beeping, booping and chiming that our devices make as we check our incoming texts, emails, phone logs, tweets, etc. – I’m grateful to have all of this at the ready.

I just said goodbye to a friend of mine, who is moving back to Australia in a few weeks. He’s been in the United States for over a decade and now he’s “heading home” but he has a lot of friends (including me) who will miss him. As we were saying goodbye he said, “Well, when I get back we can Skype (yes, he used it as a verb which shows how ubiquitous it is already) so we can stay in touch.” I nodded because I knew exactly what he meant and I agreed, “Yes, Skype sounds good, we’ll set that up once you get settled,” I replied.

Or my best friend, who is spending the last of the summer with his family in Greece. He lamented that his internet connection at his parent’s house isn’t sufficient to watch YouTube videos to the extent he wanted while he is on vacation. “The connection here is so slow!” he complained in his email to me. He was surprised because why shouldn’t he have fantastic access and internet download quality because it is available everywhere. Meanwhile, our emails continue and although it is not like having him around the corner in NYC, we’re in direct contact sufficiently to stay in close touch while he is multiple time zones and thousands of miles away.

Then there are all of you, dear readers. Claire is in the French countryside, Doug is in Hawaii, Louise is in Australia, Wren on the West Coast in Oregon, and Otto Munchen in Norway, and on and on and on.

You do the same thing I do. You get on the internet, which you expect to be easy, fast and cheap and you post your thoughts on your blogs, or write emails, or make internet telephone calls, all with nary a blip on the mental radar about how we’ve never met in person but have connected intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and more… via the interwebs.

Tell me…

How has your life been improved by access to all this great technology? How are you best leveraging all this amazing access at your fingertips?


12 Responses

  1. Technology has improved my life in the geekiest of ways.

    I’m old enough to remember having to go to NYC Public libraries and sifting through books in order to find the information I wanted. This also held true when I was reading a book and didn’t know a word: I’d have to lug a dictionary around with me everywhere I went.

    Now, with Wikipedia and several other websites, I can look up anything I need to for research on my book, to learn more about something I saw on television, or to settle a debate with my friends about who said what and when.

    As for dictionaries, my Kindle has one built in, so all I need to do is highlight the word in question and poor, I get an instant definition.

    As always, great post! It made me stop and think about how lucky we are to have access to this technology.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • It’s true Mike, who would bother to print an encyclopedia anymore? We know the moment it is printed it is at least partially out of date.

      What’s funny to me though, is that Wikipedia seems like an encyclopedia but I’m never entirely sure whether the information really is correct, you know? I don’t think there is a process for fact checking all those entries, is there?


      • I have the same concern when it comes to Wikipedia. I never trusted it before, but it seems to have become pretty reliable as an initial reference. If I’m not mistaken, fact checking is a community effort. There may be staff dedicated to checking certain facts, but I’m not sure (I haven’t done research into that question since I was a college tutor).

        With Wikipedia, I always check what I find with another source. So, for example, I’m looking up mythological creatures as I type this. If I find an entry on a river spirit, then I’ll take that name and search Google or other websites I know to see if the description/origin of the creature is correct.

  2. Great food for thought. To address one of Mike’s points and in support of your response, I do love today’s access to information, but I do have a few concerns when it comes to internet information versus book information. It used to be that a quality book would need to site references thereby lending an air of credibility, but now with so much info on the web, I do question the sources of the web information. I can appreciate how much technology these days has spurred creativity and the sharing of ideas, but sometimes when I really want good solid facts, I still turn to a well referenced book.

  3. Here is commentary by Louis CK that I think illustrates your point.

    • Haha, yeah Lem if I was funnier I would have said it like Louis CK, although I’m pleased to be thinking the same thoughts he was too….

      Thanks for sharing, this clip is PERFECT!

  4. Widespread communications access has given me the ability to stay in touch with many more people than I otherwise would have been able to keep up with. I know much more about what’s going on in many people’s lives than would have been possible.

    But I really, REALLY wish more people would keep their heads up when walking down the street. “To the Moon, Alice!”

    • It’s so true Patrick, so many people are distracted by their phones (its usually phones…) that they are not paying any attention to where they are going, who is in front or behind them, who they are bumping into, etc.

      In Manhattan that’s a dangerous thing because if you step off the curb into traffic, they could wind up being shot to the moon!

  5. Well said! You raised some really important points with this post.
    Now, Technology has a great effect on our lives; it may be directly or indirectly. We just need to use it carefully and properly, to get the best out of it. One year earlier, I was not aware of blogging at all, like most of the people of my country. I had no connection with a single person, living abroad. But blogging gave me a chance not only to interact with some wonderful people, but also to know some people, who were ready to listen my thoughts and accept me the way I am with all my beliefs. I have not met any of them personally, but somehow now they are an important part of my lives and they make me feel as if they are my own people. So if technology, can spread not only facts but also emotions; then it’s all good.
    Great post!

    • Thanks for your comment Arindam! What I enjoy most about your comment is how you have tapped into a global culture by interacting with people. This has shown you many more perspectives than just what you would experience locally in your country and you have been able to benefit from that.

      When I think about so many global situations where injustice is being done, for example, and a broader appeal is made to the international community (famines in Africa, the earthquake in Haiti, etc.) people from all over the world have an opportunity to react and help once they are exposed to the message and information.

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