Agonies of a Global Villager
It is now virtually impossible for most people to finish a day without using or coming across the concept of global village. Some cite it directly whilst most refer to it. As one can imagine, these allusions come in different spices and each one of us will use it or come across it in our own way and in our own world. When faced with a situation, those with analytic minds and keen on comparison will point out that elsewhere or before now, things are done differently. Those that live by identification will camouflage and say “we” when referring to faraway football squads such as Manchester United or Arsenal, some Africans and Asians are called or call themselves Europeans and Americans because they live or have studied in or work with companies from these continents.
All these are part of the inevitable consequence of having easy and quick access to a lot of information from around the world. Marshall McLuhan made the term “global village” popular; he used it to describe how the world had been reduced to a village by electric technology and the instantaneous flow of information from and to every quarter of the globe. We get what Marshall McLuhan was saying easily and might even consider it obvious today because we are the global villagers: we travel around the world quickly and above all, we live on the internet, we chat using instant messengers and get information from across the world on satellite TV. It was not that easy or obvious when Marshall McLuhan was explaining it in the sixties.
As global villagers, we can get information from and relate with people from all over the world in real time. Regardless of where we are, others get information about us too, the information they get is placed alongside with information from around the world and there lies the beginning of the agonies of the global villager.
The global villager cringes when she check updates of the world news on her own country and discovers that events of the moment includes a debate on whether it was right or not to participate in the welcome ceremony of a convicted politician. Her heart sinks when she hears or read that candidates for public offices in her country of origin are accusing each other of introducing violence. She feels dejected when in her own part of the world, it is still necessary to talk about the need to protect votes or have credible elections. Her heart sinks when a public office holder or aspirant from her country is given a microphone to speak and she makes a fool of herself by appearing ill prepared on content or incapable of communicating in an articulate and effective manner.
Beyond seeing things yourself and comparing it with what is going on in the rest of the world, things could still be worse for some. The agonies of a global villager can even be compounded if she is unlucky enough to come across those that comment on and ask questions about world news. They call or stop her to say things like, “what is going in your country?”or “what a shame such and such is happening in your country?” The nicer or more naive they appear the more pain they cause the global villager. Tales of such encounters abound and one of my most memorable is that of a Nigerian born American trained Economist and Professor of Management who was asked if the problem of electricity in Nigeria was maybe due to Nigerians not knowing where to buy transformers.
Those worst affected by the effect of placing chronicles of the world side by side are naturally those in the Diaspora. They physically live in one country but in many cases, their hearts and dreams travel back to where they come from. They keep in touch more than anybody else with the news on their country of origin. Ironically and contrary to what many would like to believe those in the Diaspora, because they are perfect global villagers, actually know more about what is going at home than many of those at home. They certainly get most news before those at home. Every day, they are confronted with the joy of good roads, stable electricity, good healthcare, fascinating political discourse where they live and the memory and fear of lack of all that where they come from.
As citizens, we can transform these agonies into inspirations to use for aspiring for better things where we live or love. Rather than just suffer in silence and ignorance or reject our real country because of the pain it causes us, we can use what we see elsewhere to set a new clear course for what we want by using international benchmarks and adopting best practices in everything we do.
Those in charge of the affairs of the country and those aspiring to rule the country should always remember that they are now in a global village where news of their deeds, misdeeds and utterance travel swiftly beyond their country and that they will always be judged against international standards. For the sake of their country, they need to be aware of the pains they can cause their fellow citizens when they speak, act or not act. For their own sake, they need to know that if the global villagers should rebel no leader can match or contain them.