August 5, 2011

Or to sit here

I was living in Athens when I first heard about Facebook, and I thought it was simply silly. I thought it was a narcissistic fad (says the blogger) that would pass just as quickly as Friendster and all the rest. Six years later, I am in awe at the ways in which social media now shapes our world. When I watch CNN at breakfast (my only English TV channel), they replay homemade YouTube videos from Hama because they’re not allowed to report within Syria. Facebook messages and wall postings mobilized enough people in Tunisia and Egypt to topple regimes. “Kenyans for Kenya” has raised the equivalent of a million US dollars in less than a week for famine relief, through the use of SMS text messages. My boss wants to facilitate communication between Vietnam, Kenya, and Seattle by having us all sign up for Twitter.

I remember when globalization used to mean the spread of goods and ideas through increasing international trade and travel; now ideas can spread increasingly farther and faster than planes are able to fly. (Even just now, I Google’d the difference between ‘further’ and ‘farther’ as I like to be precise, if possible, and that’s one of those pairs that has always troubled me).

Perhaps my awe of the information age is anachronistic and seems more apropos for the 1990s. But I feel changes in ways I’m not sure I’m equip to express. Yesterday afternoon I was preparing to enjoy a quiet evening at home with sweatpants, wine or tea (I had not yet decided), and a book, but ended up enjoying grilled Halloumi and locally brewed beer at a rose-petaled and candle-lit table with five friendly strangers (or strange new friends): American, American, British, Irish, Indian.

The loneliness of travel and feeling foreign becomes less intense when you know you can simply log onto a website and find others “like you.”

Perhaps if I had known this six years ago, I would have decided to give Facebook a chance earlier. Perhaps I would have spent Thanksgiving eating turkey and cranberry sauce with a group of fellow Americans. That might have been quite lovely.

But it may have also meant missing the opportunity to enjoy a chance-encounter Thanksgiving lunch with the Cyprus' chess master, which was also quite lovely. Or to sit here, alone, at the edge of Corfu with my own thoughts.

Which is better?

1 comment:

  1. Kara you are a phenomenal writer, and it is an absolute pleasure to read your blog, even though I've heard of/been with you through some of these adventures.

    And the answer is: both.