What is the globe?

What is the globe?

With its sparse oases and isles now fully mapped, its arid deserts and snowy peaks mastered by commercial flight, its vast blue oceans crisscrossed with submarine communication cables, and all of it constantly surveyed by satellites, it seems impossible to talk about human civilisation today without first talking about the planet as a whole on which we make our home; the globe.

I touched on this in my last post. Be it through ‘globalisation’, the ‘world stage’, the ‘world wide web’, the ‘global village’, ‘global warming’, the ‘GFC’, the ‘UN’, the ‘WHO’, the ‘GPS’, ‘world politics’, ‘world peace’ or ‘saving the planet’, the ‘globe’ has become the first fact of modern life, the rubric under which our day to day lives are processed and make sense.

We hear an awful lot about it, but what actually is this elusive ‘globe’? What do we really mean by that word? It’s possible to start ruling out certain possibilities. For instance, the ‘globe’ is definitely not Earth. When people talk about the ‘world’ or the ‘globe’ in the way they so often do, it’s clear they’re not talking solely and scientifically about a lonesome third rock from the sun in an obscure corner of the universe. They’re talking about something else.

Specifically, it has to do with life, biology, the defining characteristic of our otherwise unnoteworthy planet. To some extent it includes all plant and animal life, but its scope is primarily focused on a much narrower phenomenon which smells… slightly anthropocentric.

Let’s cut to the chase. The globe is all about us. Humans.

What is the globe?

But even this doesn’t get to the bottom of it. When we talk about the ‘globe’ we’re not just talking about any other species or a collection of individuals living their own lives in isolation from one another. We’re not even talking about every single human being on this planet. Instead, what we’re talking about is a network of ideas about people, and the interactions and relationships between those people. From families, friends and neighbourhoods to social networks, markets, ethnicities and nations; we’re talking about an impersonal vision of the aggregate of all interpersonal relationships, both real and imagined, and attempting to explain them as a functioning whole.

Because of this, the ‘globe’ is looking more and more like an idea which is impossible to know anything concrete about. Put simply, the ‘globe’ is a metaphor for humanity, an abstract notion very loosely defined, perhaps more symbolic or poetic than actual, and not nearly as inclusive or all-encompassing as we’d like to imagine (more often than not it’s expressed from a decidedly Western perspective). We tend to talk about the globe as though it’s a single person, something we’re somehow at once a part of and apart from. But is this the best way to understand humanity today? Is humanity best thought of as a globally conscious entity?

In other words, is it helpful to conceive of humanity as a single, synchronised actor, aware at all times of what it’s doing, where it’s going, as though it’s headed in a direction or toward a coherent objective at all? Or is it better to imagine ourselves as pockets of isolated, unaware, uncoreographed chaos and mess? It’s clear that one conception has more sway over the other in modern cultural discourse, but it’s just as easy to see that both are always there. What does a preference for the former really get us? What is its explanatory power over the latter, and more importantly does it really map onto reality?

These are pretty tough questions, and they’ll take time to dissect fully. But they’re the sorts of big, open-ended questions this blog was set up to explore. With help.

Let’s start small. What does the ‘globe’ mean to you? Be as creative as you want in your answer.

Cheers,

Mark

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How do you connect?

Incompatible

For the upcoming weeks, I’ll be writing on this question. Follow-up content will be posted along the same lines, inspired by discussion in the comment section, or even contributed directly by fellow bloggers. I’ll also be going outside myself on a quest to document how people connect in the modern world around me. In essence, this is meant to be a collaborative inquiry into particularly salient issues of the global age, and if it works, I’ll do it again with a different topic. It’s still early days though.

So with that, how do you connect? Write 5 of your favourite ways to connect to the people and the world around you. How do you use the internet to connect with friends, family, or others? Do you have any peculiar habits or ways of connecting online? And lastly, what are you connecting to when you connect with the internet itself?

Leave your thoughts below and I’ll be back tomorrow with an in-depth post on a particular aspect of this question.

Cheers,

Mark

Are we really connected?

Are we connected?

With the new year upon us it seems a good time to start this blog, so here goes.

So much of modern life is predicated on a notion that we are all connected, all the time. It’s pretty easy to feel this way too, in fact it’s almost unavoidable.

But this blog is set up to question, if not dispel that idea. In fact a lot of things make a lot more sense when you flip it around. Now more than ever before, people are living on many different globes. Societies and countries seem violently polarised. Divisions are clear cut from afar, but made up of even smaller divisions up close. Face-to-face contact seems to be a precious commodity. And yet despite all this, there’s a disproportionate emphasis placed on the overarching idea that we are all connected. Or is there?

When we take a step back from our screens, is the global age really that different? Is it really more connected or less? Or the same?

This blog is a space for thinking differently (even dangerously) about people and culture in the ‘global’ age. It’s a space to tell your stories, offer your perspectives, and get a glimpse into other people’s worlds, because after all, behind every person is a human.

At the end of it, this blog hopes to get to the bottom of just how truly connected we really are, and hopefully, genuinely, find a way of talking about connectivity which reflects our world in a more meaningful way.

But what do you think? Leave your thoughts below or discuss other’s (I’ll try incorporate some ideas in the next post). Write a blog in response and I’ll gladly reblog it. Or just introduce yourself. Let’s start connecting.

Cheers,

Mark

PS: Happy new year!