Did the Internet make the world flat?
Around 500 years ago, everyone was certain that the Earth began and ended at the horizons. Sure, you could walk as far as the land under your feet would carry you, but get off that land and into the sea… Once you hit the horizon, off into the void you would plunge.
Of course, Christopher Columbus disproved that “into the void” theory, and later, a crew led by Fer
dinand Magellan actually managed to circumnavigate the earth. Of course, it took them more than three years, and they lost all but 18 of their 250-member crew… but they made it. All of a sudden, people couldn’t be labeled blasphemers, heretics or flat-out liars for claiming that the world was round.
Although it turned out not to be flat, the world did prove to be expansive. At the Equator, the Earth is, give or take, 25,000 miles around. That’s larger than most people, myself included, can really put their heads around.
When my brother and I were children, we used to travel with our grandmother quite a bit. I remember one summer that I wanted to go to California someday. And although she was not normally a woman fazed by distance or time traveled, I remember telling me that California was all the way across the country (we lived in Ohio at the time), and it might as well be on the other side of the world.
As I sit in my living room wearing a ball cap sent to me by a Marine over in Iraq, it seems like the other side of the world isn’t quite what it used to be. In fact, it seems almost as if technology is making a liar out of Magellan and making the world flat again.
After all, we live in a world now where information, photographs, documents, video recordings, anything, can go from one side of the world to another with the push of a button. Soldiers stationed overseas can meet, see and talk to their newborn children from thousands of miles away. Grandparents can see grandbabies whenever they want.
And all of this is basically free.
It used to be that making a long-distance phone call was a cardinal sin. Forget about making an overseas call – that would have you in indentured servitude well through to retirement. These days, who in the world needs to make a long-distance or overseas call when the Internet is so readily available?
I talk to two good friends in Ohio every day – sometimes three or four times a day. I talk to a friend in Washington, D.C. every other day or so, and a few friends of mine from England who have gone back home, I hear from at least twice a month. I know grandparents who videoconference their grandchildren in Germany.
The Internet has taken the world and reduced it from something incomprehensibly large to something almost manageably small. Or so it would seem.
Just a few years ago, getting ready for a high school reunion, I remember speaking with some of my out-of-town friends who groused because they had not been able to keep up with what was happening at home since they left the area. As I look at the statistics from our website last month, I’m going to have to suggest that my friends come up with new excuse this year.
It seems that the Post-Register, and therefore local news from right here in little ol’ Lockhart, Texas, is being read frequently in all kinds of places: Mexico, Israel, Italy, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and the Philippines, most notably. But then, people also check in from places I’ve never heard of, like Mauritius.
We have readers in Guam, South Korea, Turkey, China, the Russian Federation, Nigeria, Spain, India, Brazil, New Zealand, Chile, Austria, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan… the list just goes on and on. So I don’t think I’ll let anyone get away with telling me that they can’t keep up with Lockhart from… say… Houston, this year.
Of course, this new information also gives me very little, if any, excuse for not keeping track of my friends (or my sisters, for that matter), in Austin… or Dallas… or El Paso. Anyone you could possibly want to talk to can be there, right on the corner of your desk.
Sure, it’s not quite the same as a conversation and a cup of coffee… but it’s a start.
(By LPR Staff)