I’m sheltering from monsoonal rain at the moment, somewhere just north of the equator, tapping out this blog on my iPhone. Around me travellers from all over the globe are also using their personal devices to go about whatever digital communications they desire. Even in what seems a remote and idyllic paradise, people are still connected to their ordinary lives, and seamlessly maintain the link to their ordinary lives either by the pool or in the bar. Through technology, the world and humanity are changing immeasurably; no other time in history can compare.
I’ve opted to stay off line for the fortnight. Ben and I pre-recorded our recent FiST Chat episodes so I could. It’s the first time I’ve been offline in 8 years, since I spent a couple of months in Nepal making films. It feels weird, but it also feels quite nice to break the invisible ties of the internet.
Of course, I’m not completely disconnected. Every few days I enjoy a location with free access to check emails, post on Facebook, and Google the best buys for knock off brands. But I’m not constantly connected by phone or internet even though the wireless network is accessible practically everywhere.
There are folk from every continent here (except Antarctica), and a content stream from most of them is being fed back around the world through their personal networks. Experiences are being shared remotely, as easily as they are face to face. Distance is just a difference of location, which if can’t be solved by a taxi ride or airfare can be solved by a post, tweet or skype call. No one goes missing anymore, unless of course they want to. The world is definitely shrinking.
Amongst the phone towers and base stations are Western style experiences in food, fashion and entertainment. The only thing that really differs are the people and the climate. Perhaps given another couple of decades technology might even change that too. The mixing of cultural DNA is bringing people all over the world together, gradually eliminating the space between us. It’s easy to see the rise of a global citizenry throughout the next century as national borders dissolve, and passports are no longer needed thanks to Google tracking. What a weird and wonderful world might it be then? A life of freedom where one can travel wherever they choose but can never be offline. Where big brother watches everything, never tells about the little things, but will be waiting for you at the border if you make the mistake of going too far.
It could be like that today, but the world is not quite ready yet. It will be someday soon. Until then, enjoy life offline because tomorrow there may be no option to disconnect.