Day by Day



19 December 2005

If you have a niche, scratch it...


I don't wanna go to school today! Everyone hates me! I just want to stay in my room.

Well, now thanks to the exponentially growing electronosphere, your elementary school tantrum can be a reality. In the underdeveloped world, a person was likely to live and die within a few miles of their birthplace. They would work, learn and raise families all within a relatively small geographic region.

The same was true in the developing world, until the advent of the industrial revolution. At that point folks simply started to move about. It is estimated in the United States that at any given time, 25% of the population is moving! This is a stunning statistic.

We are now entering, I propose, a period of contraction. There is now appearing a trend to not move and to minimize the range of exposures one must face. A recent paper published in the UK in 2001, addresses the issue of electronic governance and the rapidly changing role of business, government and its citizens.

We are now able to reach out to all corners of the globe via blogs, web cams, e-mail and a host of other virtual methods. But I see the backlash of this as people more often choose to sequester themselves in insulated realms of existence.

We can customize our information intake via a host of cable and satellite channels. We can choose only to converse in "realms" in which we feel comfortable. Our interaction with the outside world can be reduced to the basics, the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen.

Faith Popcorn described this as cocooning in the mid 1990s. It's real and evidenced in a number of externally measurable metrics. The decline in movie attendance, the loss of membership in volunteer organizations and other indicators of social withdrawal.

The problem, as I see it, is that this cocooning is non-geographic. Each household becomes and island in which citizens become distanced from one another and become vulnerable to real issues which are related to location (i.e. storms, crime, etc.).

My prediction, we will see a return to small enclaves, although they will exist in the virtual most of the times. This will further fracture modern society as the ability of people to interact and develop legitimate understanding will wane.

Outcome?

Uncertain.

5 comments:

Scootmaroo said...

And thus the development of the exurb? Those wonderfully white, gated communities far from social and political reality that Atlanta and DC now have so many of?

Citizen Deux said...

NO, the exurbs stemmed from a desire to have a contiguous living area of consistent socio-economic structure. They were market driven by folks who were weary of wildly varying zoning issues and crime.

This is separate from the development of the suburbs in the era of "white flight" in which the centers of cities were abandoned in the wake of the unrest of the late 60s.

Scootmaroo said...

But were they not also created to cocoon? To create an existance that denied diversity? A virtual Stepford, as it were? To protect themselves, and by extension, their children, from any culture or idea other than own?(and by that I mean black, hispanic, gay, democrat, non-christian?)....Being an urban dweller, I cannot fathom such a sterile and sheltered life as those in the exurbs seek. It is in a sense, tribal....

Citizen Deux said...

But were they not also created to cocoon? To create an existance that denied diversity? A virtual Greenwich Village, as it were? To protect themselves, and by extension, their children, from any culture or idea other than own?(and by that I mean religious, conservative, capitalist, carnivorous, republican, non-socialist?)....Being a sub-urban dweller, I cannot fathom such a sterile and sheltered life as those in the urban realms seek. It is in a sense, tribal....

Scootmaroo said...

You contratdict yourself, my friend. Urbania celebrates diversity, as does Greenwich Village, last time I checked. In my complex alone are interacial couples, gay couples,single straights, single gays, so called typical "nonblended" married couples with 2.5 children and a dog...jews, baptists, hindus, whatever.....at my Safeway you see whites, hispanics, blacks, asian, all shopping together in virtual harmony. In my parking lot there are Bush Stickers, Kerry Stickers, Green Party Stickers. Can you say the same for Buckhead Lite? Last time I was there, you couldn't see the forest for the Prada Peddle Pushers....AND you are withing the city limits, I believe..Suburban? Please.....