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.
A 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.