We’ve been talking about community this month and a lot of us have talked about personal communities. Colleges, writing groups–things that are intensely personal. But earlier this week, Kait brought up a point. Our global community has become much more accessible through technology.
Last week, Paris was rocked by a series of terrorist attacks. It didn’t take long before the message spread. Hashtags appeared on Twitter. Photos on Facebook. People posted reactions: sorrow, fear, support. And yes, some hatred.
I saw a photo montage of buildings in cities across the world lit red, white and blue in support of Paris (the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh was not majestic enough to be included, but it was also lit). Thousands, if not millions, of people came together to mourn and express defiance in the face of terror. Regrettably, others supported the terrorists and some used the opportunity to spew more hatred. The point is, we knew what had happend–and continue to learn new facts–almost in real-time.
Now, go back twenty years. Maybe even less. Would the same thing have happened? Maybe eventually, but not as quickly. What changed?
In a word: technology.
Twenty years ago, even fifteen years ago, there was no Twitter. No Snapchat. No Instagram. I can’t remember when Facebook started, but it certainly wasn’t as big in 2000 as it is in 2015. All of these services have allowed people to connect with others across the country, across oceans, across the globe. Our world has not physically shrunk, but it sure has gotten smaller. We used to have to wait for the traditional media to print a story in a physical newspaper. Now we can learn about things hours or even minutes after they happen.
It’s kind of overwhelming if you dwell on it. I’m not on Snapchat or Instagram, but watching my Twitter feed is kind of like watching water come out of a fire hose. A new message pops up every second. Technology has upped the “do it NOW” factor. Email or text messages mean we’re never very far out of touch. The pressure to respond to that alert can be overwhelming.
But at the same time, technology has opened doors that may never have even been known about. The only other Mysterista I’ve met in person is Diane Vallere. And when I saw her at Bouchercon Raleigh, we threw our arms open and yelled “Mysteristas!” I’d never “met” her until that moment. But the community here online meant I felt like I’d known her for months and we could greet each other as old friends. And I’m sure it will be the same when I get to meet my other Mysterista sisters someday.
So yeah, the world has shrunk. And the shrinking means increased pressure. But it also means increased opportunity: to meet and interact with people from differing backgrounds, faiths, nationalities, etc. And that means increased opportunities to grow.
So readers, how has technology affected your community (positive or negative)?
Mary Sutton | @mary_sutton73