Connections and walls

31 July 2014
31 Jul 2014
West Lafayette, IN
3 mins

A life in the twenty-first century largely revolves around connections. Connections to people, to the Internet, to instant knowledge, and even to the ever-increasing and ever-evolving group of “smart” household items. Most of us — at least those of us in the largely post-industrial communities — consider consciously or subconsciously the ubiquitous connections to be a mandatory commodity, not a luxury that it is to the large majority* of the global population. However, in living in those connected communities, the network forms a sort of a bubble, isolating those inside of the heavily connected digital network from those outside. This unfortunately separates ourselves from most of the world and creates a flawed illusion that makes it appear as if the world is bound by the limits of our connections, too often excluding much of what makes us human — intense emotion, unavoidable human flaws, and the reality of life (and what comes thereafter) — from our consciousness.

It seems that in pursuing the trait that makes us inherently distinct from any other organism in the world — the ability to communicate complexly and to connect deeply— we left behind what makes us inherently anchored to the rest of the world, that we are all only human, and yet, we are all that is human.

So in this particular corner of the digital bubble, I want to explore both sides of the wall. Because on one side, we are powerful, connected: an individual with an idea can change the face of the Earth. But on the other side, we aren’t all that powerful. We bend to the will of nature, and everything eventually comes to an end. We are not the kings and queens of the universe anymore: merely a tourist. A traveler of a realm that belongs simultaneously to everyone and to no one. And to this lifelong traveler, that’s no reason to stop searching for meaning. Rather, the limits that are imposed provide more argument for our constant search for meaning and value in our limited time, and I look forward to sharing a bit of what I make of it here.

* only about 3 billion** out of the 7.1 billion people on earth have access to any kind of internet, with the majority from the developing nations and communities coming from very low-powered smartphones with limited capabilities. The percentage of population with a high-speed internet connection (as in the U.S.) is much lower.

** Since I wrote this post, there’s been an incredible increase in the number of people around the world with expanded access to the Internet, often through mobile devices. You can check out more updated information as of 2018 in this series of infographics.

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