I really can not recommend John Simpson‘s “autobiographical writings” highly enough (which was the treat I bought for myself yesterday).
In them, he comments on the increasing homogeneity of the world, and his feeling of being a citizen of the “global village”. I was pondering this as I travelled to work this morning (a tortuous and extended journey, thanks to engineering works – but nothing compared to travelling through the Hindu Kush in a Russian jeep.). In a way, we bloggers are members of the global village too, but only in a half-way-there kind of way. By that, I mean that on a daily basis I communicate through my site and also by email and instant message with people in all corners of the globe. I share my experiences with them, and sometimes I am lucky enough that they share theirs with me. But I am only half way there because I am still immersed in my Cicestrian life, not part of life in other places, not experiencing those sights, sounds, smells, sensations – not really feeling what the other cultures on the planet are really like. I can only imagine, creating an impression based on the little I learn though other people, be they those that correspond directly, or those that I read and hear and see in the media.
So the explosion in media and communication that has occured in the last one hundred years, and particularly in the last 25 years (email celebrated 30 years of existence just the other day) is a good thing in that it allows ordinary people (if there is anything other than ordinary people) like me to experience and get a sample of life in other places and cultures. But on the flip side, as expressed by John Simpson (and I implore you to read his books to see what I mean), that explosion of cultural dissemination, communication and movement has resulted in an increasing homogeneity, the erosion of local unique cultures. Entire political and cultural ways of thinking and acting, whole belief structures have disappeared or become diminshed and diluted. The number of communist states is a tiny fraction of what it was 15 years ago. The number of dictatorships and autocratic monarchies seems to get fewer every day – multi-party democracy, with all its faults, is seen as the more successful model, and either nations move towards that model of their own accord, or have it foisted upon them by the western powers. The increased veneration of cash and wealth and power seems unending. And yes, dare I say it, “globalisation” has a part in this too.
Clearly, all of these changes have benefits and disbenefits. It is probably true to say that, on balance, the benefits outweigh the disbenefits. I’d like to think that this is the case, at least, and I hope that if it wasn’t, the global populace would try to stop the process in some way.
I’ve lamented on this site previously about the almost total disappearance of some regional dialects (I referred to the Sussex dialect in particular). I can see this process being repeated and enhanced globally in the next century or so, and not just impacting on the way we speak, but on the things we do, our beliefs and customs, the way we think and act. Travel, television and film have been the main factors so far. The internet, especially when sound becomes more integral in websites, will further hasten the process.
Make the most of the variety that you see before you now. Parts of it may not be around for much longer.