Information is abundant, overwhelming and constant. We have the ability to know just about anything we could ever possibly want to know – whenever we want, however we want. Our information “accesser” molds conveniently in the palm of our hand. It’s so easy, it borders on the absurd.
Yet surprisingly enough, we turn our heads away from the endlessness of the tech-fashioned universe. Instead, we find ourselves looking to the earth touching our feet: at the people, places and things that surround us. We’re looking for what’s close. For the local groups that speak to our unique interests, for opportunities to connect with our neighbors, to buy locally made products and generally, to enjoy the comforts of the familiar.
Why, when we have access to everything and anything, from the highest of heights to the farthest of distances, do we want what is closest and most presumably accessible?
Is it because we all, as a collective, want what we can’t have? Is this a case of societal FOMO? Or is it that we have what we don’t want?
How does the saying go? In order to know your future, you must first know your past. Before the Internet (which spellcheck just told me deserves a capital “I”), before modern technology, before machines replacing humans, before big data…we were a community. Neighbors talked to neighbors, face to face. They borrowed eggs from one another. They shopped in the neighborhood market. They celebrated and mourned life events together. They knew the local shoe-maker.
Today, we snapchat and whatsapp our hundreds of very closest friends from halfway across the world. We buy eggs from our mega supermarkets, online, and we don’t ask the shoe-maker his name, because frankly, we don’t have time (or care).
Am I romanticizing the “days of lore” a bit too much? Perhaps.
But regardless, I think something interesting may be happening here. The world is flat, yes. But it appears we are each looking for our little lump of community.
Why do I go to a yoga studio when I can practice off of YouTube videos at home and save humiliating sums of money? Why do we huddle around farmers markets, brushing shoulders with like-minded foodies, when online grocery delivery services work just fine? Why do co-working hubs have such long waiting lists, when working from your laptop from home, alone, is so much easier and cheaper? Community, physical interaction and a sense of belonging to a place can’t be provided from YouTube, PeaPod or, believe it or not, Google.
Yes, something big is happening here indeed. We thought a flattened, globalized, and interconnected world was the end all be all. We’d figured it out, the world had changed and we’re never turning back. However, it turns out, it might be one stop of the cycle of society. For it appears we are returning to what is local, physical. Here and now.