Technology shrinks the world, makes geography less relevant. People find kinship, common cause, and community on the Internet, across nations and sometimes even languages. When the Internet began to erupt, when its connections began to draw such people closer together, this was anticipated with great hope and excitement. And with reason. At their best, the consequences are wonderful.
But it turns out that, like most major social transformations, this transcendence of geography has come with a slew of unexpected emergent properties, not all of them good. Indeed, some of which probably already need to be mitigated — fast.
It’s great that open-source communities can collaborate across the globe to craft tools which benefit everyone. It’s no bad thing that wealthy professionals in Singapore, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Dubai, and Hong Kong may feel they have more in common with one another than with people who live an hour’s drive away. One world, one humanity, one future. Right?
Except that around the globe, we increasingly see three worlds, sometimes intertwined and intersecting, but still apparently separating a little further every year: the ultra-rich, the rich, and the poor. The 1%, the 19%, and the 80%. The G20 are mostly looking more, not less, like the BRICS. Inequality has fallen between countries, which is good … while simultaneously rising within most countries, which is not.
As nations grow ever more alike, it gets easier for groups to forge common cause across nations. A virtuous cycle … except when it’s a vicious one. Except when bigots, xenophobes, and white supremacists join together. From Steve Bannon to Marine Le Pen to xenophobic Brexiters to the Five Star Movement, to the Kremlin, “white nationalism,” i.e. racist hatred, has been transformed — ironically — into an internationalist network.