We live in a high-tech, technology filled world. I will be the last one to tell you that this is a bad thing. Personally, I love the ability to open doors with technology. It enables me to study at far away universities, to talk to people who I would otherwise only read about in newspapers, and to write stories for the world to read on this blog. I think technology has enabled us to do the greatest things of our time. We can share knowledge and learn about our rights, no matter where or who we are in the world. It’s the greatest tool of empowerment, we have ever known.
But there is also a downside. Or better yet, a tricky side. The connectivity resulting from technology has made the world a small place, but it has also created communities which are too big to fathom. The bigger the community, the more difficult it becomes to focus on the human side of stories.
The first explanation given by the Oxford Dictionary for the word Community is “A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” But today, communities are not just the groups of people you share your street, neighborhood, town or country with. Communities can involve people from all over the world. Instead of being connected by streets and sidewalks we are connected by underwater internet cables and wi-fi connections. Again, I think it’s a good thing that we are able to talk to people from other cultures and with those who live in different circumstances than our own. But sometimes it takes some effort to rescale these immense communities back to the essence of the individual.
Or as Zainab Salbi refers to it, the risk of turning the world into a chess game. Seeing people as numbers and the danger of our casual perspective on casualties. It results in not being shocked by some of the horrors we see on the news. Seeing the world’s issues in terms of numbers makes them easier to swallow. But isn’t the essence of life, humanity?
By taking a step back we can once again see issues such as international conflict as human issues, rather than statistic issues. Enabling us to get a clearer picture of the important actors in today’s conflicts. Just like Zainab says, we can not accomplish peace if we neglect to invite those who keep the peace to the negotiating table.