There are no distant events any more.

There are no distant events any more. I realised that on Monday, when I heard about the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Twenty years ago this would have been an awful thing happening in a far away place. I’d think it was terrible, but it wouldn’t affect me directly. But now, through the Internet, I know several people who live in Boston – including my editor. Thankfully they are all safe and well.

It reminded me forcefully that if a horrible event happens in a major city in America I probably know someone there. And it’s nearly as true for Australia. I know people all over Europe. I know people who live in the Middle East. And here in the UK of course. All through the Internet. It’s kind of artificial of course. I don’t really “know” these people and I’ve never met most of them. But I feel a connection with them. I value what they have to say. They have a place in my life. So if they are potentially in danger, I worry about them.

twitter-bird-light-bgsA lot of this is down to Twitter. I’ve said before that Twitter has its own time zone. It’s only ever NOW on Twitter. But there’s something else. There’s no place on Twitter except HERE. Following those tweeting about the events of this last week as they happened, and of many other previous unfolding events and knowing some of them are potentially directly affected made me feel like it was happening in my back yard. Twitter connects us, often to good purpose, but that also means the circle of people we have to worry about becomes much wider. Twitter makes the whole world my neighbourhood.

If the world is a global village, Twitter is the village square, where it is only ever HERE and NOW.

4 thoughts on “There are no distant events any more.

  1. It’s mind boggling, isn’t it?? I’ve had the good fortune to meet a number of my “imaginary friends”, including staying with them on vacation or having them stay with me.

    From the other side of things, when the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed in 2007, I was amazed by the number of people who checked in to make sure I was ok, knowing that I lived in Minneapolis.

    1. I’ve been able to meet a few people who I got to know over the internet – sometimes having to restrain my fangirl squeeing when they’re cool writers whose books I love.

  2. Very true. I always think, if I was hit by a bus… and so never tweeted/facebooked again… (or even posted on my blog/LJ) would anyone realise I’d gone? Would they be wondering what happened to me? lol! I sometimes wonder if I should have a back up plan… or something in my will, to make sure everyone knows when I do disappear off the face of the earth. lol!

    1. People are creating “internet wills” now. Like ones that give the passwords to their accounts so their executor can sort all that out for them. Places like Facebook and Live Journal will on request change a profile to a “memorial” profile after a person has died.

      Of course the first instruction in anyone’s digitial will should probably be, “clear my browsing history!” 😀

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