If I relocalize the first portion of MLK’s famous quote “DARKNESS CANNOT DRIVE OUT DARKNESS; ONLY LIGHT CAN DO THAT” and use it as an antecedent to one proposition herein—GLOBAL SOLUTIONS CANNOT SOLVE GLOBAL PROBLEMS; ONLY LOCALITIES CAN DO THAT—is that in a paradoxical relationship with another proposition herein—THERE IS NO GLOBALIZATION; ONLY GOOD AND BAD LOCALIZATIONS
Globalization Does Not Exist: living in the wrong locality
All that exists now as comparatively different from all Earthen times previous to the industrial age is that a particular species (humans) wields the digital leveraging tools to alter internal relations in distant localities and concomitantly welcome alterations in their own localities. Roughly speaking, the Earth still weighs the same as for millions of years, and has the same quantities of chemical elements, yet many humans erroneously have it backwards when they conceive of it as a more connected world; it is neither the case in terms of human society nor in thermal relations of material and living systems—both instances are more objectified than ever. The large scale tendency since the Earth began has been for more connections in an increasingly deepening fashion, but this is all being curtailed as humans impose their roadways for superficial connectivity, to the loss of a great many more connections. How could this be? Every road created—whether of asphalt, airwaves, or cables—is a severing of countless other roads, the majority of which are subtle biological interconnections that would be insulted by bringing them in to analogy with a simplistic road. These human-made roads, as destructive as they may be in their origination, maintenance, and energetic persistence, allow for other disconnections while flaunting a facade of connectivity.
There is true connectivity that the Internet enables, to be sure, but it is a highly mediated, digitally reductive connectivity that forces a user to narrow themselves to the proscribed categories and languages of interaction so that a transferring across the channels may be possible. A great coloring is lost by the time (by the space) one locality successfully connects with another locality, creating a relatively superficial and flavorless experience. What is given up, however, is the greatest loss, and that is namely that the person or entities ensnared in connection to other localities is vacating themselves from their own immanent surroundings. The social and psychological damage to people has been blunted and forgotten through normalization, but it is clear to anyone who is reminded of the positivity of mutually attending to a face-to-face interaction with others, how much is lost when people are looking down at a phone in ignorance of their own body and its surroundings.
More and more it seems people are generally choosing to attend to the localities that are wrong for their person, which are all localities that don’t include their bodies; a thousand thousands of immediate connections are traded off for a dozen mediated connections. The problem worsens not by biological imperative, but for the simple fact that the more others are absent, the less reason to be present oneself and the more incentive to leave, also. The collective loss that we all endure might sound analogous to the tragedy of the commons, and that is because it is an extension of the very same problem! As fewer and fewer are caretakers of our immediate social environments and choose to use them as mere individual placements for our bodies while our attention is funneled in to a narrowing device, others will choose to treat the space the same rather than trying to preserve what appears to be a losing cause. One example is the uphill battle of being on a bus or subway and trying to not only muster the courage to start a conversation, but the energy to maintain it and avoid an “awkward ending”, all in a social environment that has social skills atrophying.
In addition to the creeping deteriorations, these re-localizing technologies also create immediate danger to the body and those around it. Someone from Asia might be investing attention in the minutiae of a few bits of information located in a server farm in Mexico while their absentee body unbeknownst to them is pending assault by a vehicle, driven by a man looking down at his GPS to know where he is. The blunting of the senses that takes place during mediated time will also be less and less available during immediate time, again reinforcing escape to a de-locality because of real losses incurred in one’s own locality.
Wagers of peace might say that through the Internet or parallel “technologies of connection” humans are less and less likely to desire war with a now humanized other, but always overlooked in this analysis is the increased risk that humans will now be more apt to wage war against their own neighbors who they come to resent, for reasons such as their not being enough like their Internet pal on the otherside of the planet (these incorrect and often negative assumptions about one’s neighbors—one’s real neighbors—are able to proliferate in an environment where local society is not attended to and ignorance of it runs rampant). If it were truly a global neighborhood, one person’s network of neighbors would be the same as another’s, and this is obviously not the case even when facebook allows up to 5,000 friends, a superficially large number to say the least, and yet insignificant next to the global human population of 7,000,000,000.
This peculiar age (that curiously coincides with the holocene extinction event) affords people the ability to divest from a good locality (the one that their entire bodies currently dwell in) for a bad locality (one in which they can leverage digital tools to impose their energies, albeit in narrow form). Humans are increasingly making this choice to be involved in a distant “bad” locality which necessarily sows (perhaps unintended) negative impacts to their own locality. Contrarily, connectivity looked at globally is decreasing (think of fewer migrating animals, pathways altered, species extincted) in an entropic situation compared to how it might be in a healthy, unpolluted evolving biosphere. True that to humans it may look more connected, but if we blinded our vision instead of our other senses, we’d feel the disconnect more clearly. Surely many animals that have deeper memories would be able to do a diachronic comparison.
Going forward, one can be global in their own locality, or global in an irrelevant, distant, inefficient locality. One cannot achieve globality by means of the Internet, that is just interfering in distant localities while allowing your own locality to atrophy. True global connection can only be achieved by life in a very sophisticated advanced ecosystem, something which we are currently drifting away from.