Saturday, November 30, 2013

Being Thankful

It's that time of year...

People of America all seem to try to occupy the same space as every other person while they get all grabby grabby with stuff that neither they nor anyone else ever needed. Seriously.... stores are starting their black Friday specials on Thanks Giving Day?

TV shows talk about getting together with family in an obnoxious combination of people saying dicky things like "Gobble Gobble" (If your turkey dinner suddenly made a "gobble gobble" noise, you'd be freaked out), ignoring the people around them while watching sports and obsessing about food (what's with the marshmallows on yams?).

It all accumulates in this really nice moment of "I'm thankful for..." along the same sort of lines as saying grace (Dear something bigger than myself. I'm anxious about X. I'm thankful for stuff).

That's something I could get behind.

I'm thankful for the Internet.

For the last couple of days my stats have suddenly plummeted. People suddenly stopped visiting the blog. Which, given this event's proximity to Thanksgiving, would seem to indicate that most of my readers are from the States. Either that or my stats are completely reliant on me posting daily (it's a hell of a pace).

From the outside looking in, the States is a truly odd place. The American's I've met in New Zealand, those that have or are looking to immigrate here, have been American refuges. They've wanted to enter into a world of less extremes.

The ones that I imagine when imagining someone electing Bush or spouting on about the fire and brimstone that is the inevitable result of trying to look after people (yep... that Obama guy is totally going to hell) are quite different. I imagine an insular people.

The sort of people who are completely reliant on the labels on a map (I'm useless at geography but at least have a general idea of where the continents are. I mean the people who would see Australia labeled as "North Korea" and not question it at all) and who spout off rubbish like "America was the richest country in the world until Obama came into power" or whatever. Those that spout things like "we're the greatest country in the world!" without ever having done a comparison with the rest of the world.

Now, the attached video clip - I could have picked a video clip with American's getting their geography all messed up in scaringly humorous ways. I'm sure we've all seen them. Instead, the first 8 minutes of The Newsroom.

So what does this have to do with the Internet? Imagine a mechanism whereby people could see outside of their own circumstances. When I was working within the Manaiakalani project, one of the biggest things that I was seeing that had me excited was the fact that the kids were seeing themselves on a global stage. They're more than just being "From G.I." (when asked why they say "'sup" I was told "We're from G.I").

Is the Internet having a similar effect in America? I still see quite stupid statements around the place - such as someone commenting on this blog about 2 pages of the constitution (using "" and knowing that the original draft was around 4,200 words long, we can estimate the constitution to being a little more than 9 pages long and that's not counting amendments) not calling for a nanny state (The Constitution also doesn't mention equality at all. It's mentioned for "all men" in the declaration of independence but that's not the constitution...) BUT do those same people also take something away with them?

Does the barrage of "Holy crapballs on toast. That's what you believe?" have these people wondering how the rest of the world see them? Is that the game changer? I'm not suggesting at all that the rest of the world has it right. I mean, if we take the extreme that is North Korea as an indication of humanity's infinite capacity for adaption, we're probably all skewed based upon something... for that infinite capacity to be there, there also has to be circumstances under which we need to adapt for.

I freely admit to not understanding a lot of the positions I see expressed (All the Fire and Brimstone you could possibly want and then some!). Am I also taking something away with me?

As a teenager I figured out the best thing you can possibly share with someone is perspective. Traditionally this was via published works. I could write a book and have it appear on shelves everywhere! And if people wanted to offer some feedback they'd either have to seek me out or craft a letter (remember those days?). So it was effectively a one way medium. Nowadays we have the Internet... Where access means you can share your perspective and gain someone else's etc. For most of us, getting access to the Internet is a hell of a lot easier than trying to convince someone to buy our rights (copyrights) so that we can get published.

Is there a way of ending one of these "I'm thankful for" things?

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