About two and a half years ago I started to study about globalisation. Globalisation, The Key Concepts by Thomas Hylland Eriksen was a great introduction to start with. Today I’m revising what I read about the topic, trying to give it a fresh look, and thinking about what it means and how it impacts me as an individual and member of community.
Being more aware about the processes of globalisation gives a person the means to form some understanding about what is happening in the world us. And this allows us explore the impact of these things on us. This is why I think some literacy about globalisation can serve as a great awareness tool.
The first chapter is an intensive read, provoking some deep thoughts about what globalisation based on different views can mean, and how some of these views are rather uniformed, or not deep enough. Since the first chapter also served as an overview of his views about the subject of globalisation, and because these views were thought provoking, I’ve decided to write about some of the points highlighted in the summary of the first chapter.
The first point Eriksen makes about globalisation in the summary of the first chapter was this:
Globalisation entails both the intensification of transnational connectedness and the awareness of such an intensification.
This transitional conntecness that happens through more communication and transportation around world leads to more awareness not only about what is happening around us, but also about what is happening far from us. On a personal basis, this phenomena manifested itself through Facebook. And this is exactly the reason why I gave it up.
My life with Facebook felt like as if the smaller world surrounding me was invaded by a larger world that was very intrusive, yet more relevant than relevant to my life. I don’t strive to live in a shell and want to be more aware about the wider world, especially that it can impact me as strongly as the smaller world surrounding me, but at the same time I want to have more control over this huge information stream that can easily wash you away from what really matters in your life.
Facebook comprises a large part of that informaation stream. It happens when you start caring about what is happening thousands of miles away from you, and using the Steven Covey’s terms, enlarging your circle of interests, but making you less aware what is happening within a mile away from you, where your circle of impact could and maybe should be. This is why although I remain connected with the world, I am not using Facebook to do that, because for me it is more difficult to manage interaction with the world through Facebook than other networks.
Furthermore, an intensification of this connectedness doesn’t necessarily mean equality in this connectedness. This applies to both form of connectedness, communication and transformation. Here is what I mean with that.
For example, it was very strange and irritating for me to read about the events happening in my own country, Iraq, using international news media, and at the same time living in Iraq. Enabled through my English language skills, I was attracted to international news about Iraq because it was better compiled, more presentable, and seemingly deeper, but at the time very inaccurate and biased. Iraqi news media were not necessarily inaccurate, but they were neither professional nor timely.
So I was watching how the world would learn about Iraq through international news media, getting all the wrong ideas about the country, only because local sources were not competent enough. And I also watched how the world suddenly stop carrying about Iraq, although hell was breaking loose in the country, and hundreds dying every month because of violence. Daily security incidents in Baghdad as large as those in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016 were making only small headlines in the major news outlets. Based on the international public opinion, nothing was happening in Iraq, simply because the news outlets were not reporting it.
It was very shocking for me to see how reality was created through media, especially social media, and how events would be huge or non existing based on what was decided in influential news rooms or curated in popular news feeds. And it was shocking for me to see how the local communities were conceiving reality through screens, whereas they could do the same more accurately by going out and looking what is happening in the next street.
As for transnational connectedness through transportation, it might be intensifying for goods, but not necessarily for people. We can see how visas are getting more difficult to get than in the past. I am always amazed to hear how the generation of my parents had visited more countries than I might probably see in my life. Europe was a favoured holiday destination for Iraqis in the 60s and 70s. Today, it is very difficult for an Iraqi national to visit, lets say, Berlin.
This is why many Iraqis have spent half their lives to earn the freedom to travel around, by becoming European nationals. The freedom to travel gives them more opportunities and options. But keeping their former identity is challenging. Especially after ISIS and the refugee crisis, discrimination and stricter security measures have made living and traveling for them in foreign countries more challenging, even with European identification.
Therefore in a more transitional connected world, traveling and living in the places you were not born in or share the same culture with is not necessarily easy. Globalisation has accelerated the world and made it more interconnected, but not always removed cultural barriers or created equality.