It’s probably true that the world only seems small to big people.
And I don’t know if it’s a historical trend or not, but the last time society got a new glimpse at how to perceive our planet – the fact that it’s ball and not a coin – people had gone through some pretty serious changes: scientific, religious, and even existential.
A room is defined not just by the borders, but by the objects in it and their positions, so a planet is probably defined by the people and animals and whatnot on it and their positions on that planet. A person’s perspective of their environment affects them conversely, and their mind is a bubbly, atom-y room that’s defined by the molecules and nerves and receptors and all their symbiotic integrations and their positions away from each other…It’s like an inner kind of heliocentricism. Maybe whatever substance or atomic particle that constitutes our consciousness, our inner holder of perspective, is the sun in this model, regulating the gravity and balance of a complicated system, be it a galaxy or a human brain.
When people found out the world was not flat, some lost their minds, lost that kind of inner balance and gravity. But is there a modern equivalent to that? The internet is so large on its own that it helps fuel the perspective that our world is expansive, even as technology brings us closer and closer, exponentially bridging the gap between nations and ideologies. But as people get older and more experienced, as technology rushes past the developmental stages of social conduct and into the fully bloomed stages of maturity, the phrase “it’s a small place after all” becomes more and more a common cliché.
Each person with access to the internet already has so much more power than those who don’t. The ability to produce information for however many to see was once a privilege to the elite classes of science and academia. It’s produced a discrepancy with regards to this cliché: we are a society that sees the world as small and the individual as small as well.
It’s as if humanity caused a giant curvebell shift a decade or so ago regarding the standards of human power and influence; the average person has all the more ability to shift balances than they did a century ago, but because so many people have this power, it has become common, mundane and ordinary, not special, massive or extraordinary. While the internet brings entire strangers together simultaneously, giving their voices, opinions, impressions and thoughts more potential, it all becomes white noise that is too difficult to differentiate amongst it all. A large fraction of young internet users are aspiring writers or artists of some kind, and how does one find the next Steinbeck or the next Picasso when the quantitative prospects have gone from thousands to billions, in only a couple hundred years?
Words are so much more difficult these days. The articulacy and the originality of them is hard to come by. There probably are just as many gifted writers today as there were 150 years ago, but now the gifted writers have to try just as hard as the hobbyists and the fluffers. They have become smaller along with our world. The digital age is climaxing towards its own heliocentric epiphany. Soon we will realize there are many more stars in the world than living humans, and the center of attention will no longer be us, never again be us.
To see our world as small is a matter of personal intuition, position or perspective. The big and wealthy who can fly to a neighboring continent at any time, who can have such personal control, independence and freedom (thanks to technology) will surely see the world as small and they themselves at the top of the human hierarchy of power and success. But to most of us? We’re just living the clichés of inconsistencies and discrepancies, influencing each other in small, insignificant ways like how one neuron might only be affecting two others, or how one solar system can only see the fading residue of a couple more.
Drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, symbols of energy and lethargy respectively, both making enough money to fuel the top dogs of the world gain their diminutive perspective on this relatively small-sized planet, helped me realize this today.