My routine here, like clockwork, has been to get up around 6:45, eat an unbelievably massive breakfast at the place I’m staying — because it’s good, and because it’s included in the price of my room — then walk the two miles or so to this cafe to answer emails, read other folks’ sites, and update my own.
Meanwhile, everyone in the states that I know reads the site is fast asleep either five (on the east coast), six (in middle America), or eight (west coast, if David is reading) behind. I can compose my posts with leisure, knowing that it will be hours before anyone gets up and logs on to see what I’ve written. Hang on, I believe some folks in England and Australia also read my site from time to time. Well, that complicates my simple little argument, doesn’t it?
What I’m getting at is the fact that, as a post I read on someone’s site weeks ago said, somewhere in the world, someone is writing something interesting on their site at almost any hour of the day.
I lived in Europe from 1979 to 1983, and then again in 1984 and 1985. I still remember the very day we flew over to Belgium. I woke up in the middle of the night in the hotel and experienced my first real insomnia for a few hours. Of course the time zone difference helped. Looking out at the road lit by orange-tinged sodium street lights, which I had never seen before, I felt like I was on the other side of the world, rather than just a quarter of the way around it. Over the next few years, it still felt like America was a long way away, and one of the defining experiences contributing to this feeling was the telephone. Trans-Atlantic long distance was extremely expensive in either direction, at least that’s what my parents said; I never saw any phone bills. And there was a slight, half-second delay to every utterance; you could hear a faint repetition of what you just said as you talked to the person on the other end. I probably had less than ten such conversations in the five years I lived overseas. America was practically gone during those years, and I did not communicate very much with family or friends while I was gone.
By contrast, on this trip I can call L on my phone card every day for 14 cents a minute, and it sounds like I’m making a call from the same city, instead of from across the ocean: no delay, no static. I’m emailing regularly with friends and colleagues, and as you can see, I’m updating my blog regularly. All of this combines to make me feel like I really haven’t travelled that far at all.
I think that like a lot of things he argued, Marshall McCluhan’s concept of the global village brought together through mass communication is undertheorized, but from a personal perspective, my experience is much different now than it was twenty-odd years ago.