When the Imagineers at Disneyland created that Small World ride, I don't imagine they had any concept of just how small the world would one day become. You all know what I'm talking about...email, cell phones, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, Skype - who could have forseen the multiplicity of ways in which our world would become so embraceable. Certainly I'm grateful for this miraculous explosion of communication. It allows me to monitor (forgive me, Brian!) the activity of my only child, who, as we speak, has taken up residence in a country over 10,000 miles away. So while Brian is on the other side of the world (quite literally) with the right click of a mouse button I can see that he's "online and available to chat," or that, four minutes ago according to Twitter, he was "up early and ready to get to work for the day."
If you're a parent, you know the value of those small touchstones when you're dealing with the well being of your children. How we must have worried and obsessed in those days before this plethora of instant communication! But now this ability to keep tabs on everyone we care about has reached epidemic proportions. Look at the recent explosion in popularity of Facebook. We can be cyber "friends" with everyone from our old elementary school classmates to our attorneys and financial planners. It's fun to check everyone's status during the day, even if it's only to see what Carol is making for dinner, or whether Leigh's baby finally slept through the night.
But it's especially satisfying when it gives you the ability to find out what your kid is up to at any given moment, especially when they're a world away.
So here in the 21st century, the world is definitely smaller, and I believe that's a good thing. And don't you think that this ability to connect with other human beings makes us more appreciative of each other? Certainly this renewed interest in the minituae of other's life has to mean more than just purient entertainment. It has to mean we recognize the value of connecting with one another on ground level, that place where humanity converges irrespective of race, creed, or politics. That place where the most important things are the love of family and the satisfaction of a life well lived. Where all that matters is knowing your husband still loves you and your kid is safe. That place where the world becomes small enough to fit into a terrabyte or on the head of pin.
It is definitely a small world after all.