Thursday, April 19, 2012

Global Consciousness

While musing over the latest effects of the Gulf oil spill, I began musing over this idea of global consciousness. This year alone we've gone through the Gulf oil spill, hurricanes, several earthquakes (here in Turkey!) and global food shortages. The media highlights these events to spread consciousness. But what happens to these communities when the media attention fizzles out? What happens to the communities affected by these disasters? How do we help? Should we help? Who am I to ignore their need?

In a world where cell phones, twitter and wifi have become expectations, we are truly globally connected now more than ever. I am indignent when there is no wifi and frustrated when I can't get a good signal. I didn't even get my first cell phone until the 10th grade of high school. I grew up in an era where we called each others phone homes and asked our friend's mom politely if we could please speak to Suzy. Now, I avoid hotels without wifi. It seems like the dark ages. With the rise of technologies, the rise of global consciousness of these issues has also substantially increased. Even fifteen years ago, the problems of poverty, disease and war were things we read in the daily newspaper, or in books. The rise of the internet changed everything. We receive live updates of event all around the world via Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and all forms of social media. Rockets blasting in Syria tweet faster than we can keep track. Pictures and videos of the uprisings throughout the Arab world were pouring onto the internet. The earthquakes in Turkey, the earthquake in Haiti, the earthquake in Japan- these events were headlines for weeks, and of course, rightfully so. How often do we hear of them now? What does the media do in order to maintain interest in a cause?

As citizens of the world, with a new understanding of the events happening in every corner, is it our place to stand to fight these inequities? Do we raise millions of dollars for a community half-way around the world? Would we even do it for our neighboring communities? Borders have become both fluid and stagnant. While seemingly opposing ideas, the borders set after World War II have changed far less than any time previous to it. On the same token, the internet is slashing downing the cultural and social borders imposed by authoritarian regimes of old. So what do borders have to do with recent global events and our place in them? Borders represent the divide. We are us and they are them. There is a clear delineation of territory and of nationalism associated with these boundaries. Yet, morally speaking, with the rise of technology and our knowledge of global plights, people reject the "us vs. them" mentality and embraced charitable giving. Unfortunately, this only lasts while the sensationalism does. There are the rare few who push for recognition and sympathy for their cause far after the news reporters have left.

I believe the internet is slowly morphing the social sphere, forcing people to take a look at communities outside themselves. There are causes encouraging empathy (and financial donations) for victims of disease, poverty and war. These foundations, NGO's and grassroots groups are the social glue that will hold this world together as it moves forward into the digital unknown. No matter how digitized the world may become, people are at its source. People, at the community level, must care. Without the sincere passion for justice, equality and love, the world appears bleak. It is the protestors, the college kids arguing in coffee shops, the grandparents demanding the newspaper has it all wrong, and the little kid who refuses to desist in his inquisitiveness- these are the people I admire. These are the people who will change our world one issue at a time. So find a cause you are passionate about and really try to make the world a little bit better for the others sharing it.

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