The world has gotten smaller with technological improvements. Here in the United States, the completion of the initial transcontinental railroad occurred 144 years ago. Instead of needing months, one could travel from coast to coast in about a week following the placement of that final spike in 1869.
That is ancient history for some, but anyone reading this piece regardless of age only needs to think about the changes in communication which have taken place within your personal lifespan. Whether writing letters and mailing them, rotating and releasing a circle with holes to make a phone call or for a few possibly asking an operator to connect you or being on a shared party line, pushing buttons on a phone only as mobile as the length of wire attached to the wall or coiled wire on the handset, car phones, cell phones the size of your head, flip phones, email, Skype and similar video connections, texting, instant messaging, smart phones, the capability to connect with someone far away has become so natural that it can be difficult to recall or merely explain how things were to another regardless of age.
I’m not arguing against progress or technology, but have you also felt that as it becomes easier to establish contact with different people in different locations communication is actually declining? We have the ability to talk with people of different cultures, ideologies, and experiences practically instantaneously with the push or a button or barely noticeable gesture. Still, our understanding and awareness grows narrower.
In those “olden days of the 1990s and earlier” if we changed schools, jobs, or moved to a new location we encountered something different. We spoke with different people. We learned different customs and participated in different activities. We encountered many who believed differently from what we believed until we discovered someone of similar interests and ideologies who became our friends. Along that journey, however, we may have enjoyed a different activity. A belief expressed opposite of our own may have sparked a curiosity or a new understanding. We discovered that we might disagree with another on 9 points, but on 1 point we agreed and that 1 point spurred a mutual respect and desire to learn more about those 9 points of disagreement.
In many ways today, however, it seems that it is possible, no easy, to avoid anything or anyone different from what you already believe. Even someone like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia admits to his transition to reading primarily media sources which match his ideology.
Sadly I think that some no longer see the advantages of different ideas and opinions since it is possible to only see and hear what you want with all the options available. Equally disturbing is that many people fail to realize that their different sources of information all originate from the same individual or special interest in many cases.
Instead of talking with someone, the modern age seems to promote either talking at or merely listening and accepting. Questions are not intended to increase understanding or foster dialogue but to contradict and dismiss. For many only two options exist, their way and the wrong way.
Politically, I guess this is why compromise has become an evil word. Believers of the “my way or the highway” philosophy often justify their unwillingness to compromise by arguing that all media sources, with the exceptions of their favorites of course, are biased. Often this bias they claim is a result of government control and is only getting worse.
If one were to believe in the theory of the state suppression of media, why has it become easier and easier in the United States to find either mainstream or “underground” “news” sources in opposition to the President? I’m not referring to only President Obama, but any President of the United States in the technological age. Historically one can find such opposition sources throughout the course of United States history, but with technology it’s hard not to find such “information” readily available.
It is much too easy to isolate oneself within a crowd of like minded thoughts. We cease as individuals and become mirrors reflecting the same images.
The world may be smaller, but why are the distances between people and ideas moving further and further away within that same world?