We’re still blissfully disconnected even though we’re more plugged in than ever. The troubles of people across the globe are yelling at us from our televisions, our computers, our telephones, begging us to look, and now that we finally are, we don’t know what to do.

We turn on our devices and we see there have been 30 killed in Baghdad, and a 6.0 earthquake in China. We’re told things are bad, getting bad, getting worse. We’ve been hearing it all our lives. But never before has it been in our pockets, recorded from a dozen different angles, been splayed across our digital walls and left there for us to stare. As our technology keeps advancing, we can no longer ignore the outside world. The world is staring back at us from our iPhones.

It’s the idea of humanization. We’re no longer fighting an unknown enemy like terror; we see the faces of the people affected by our war. This prospect is scary for a vast proportion of patriotic Americans. It’s challenging the nationalistic belief that we’re better than everyone else. And we’re doing that to ourselves. Our search to be more connected, more knowledgable has yielded knowledge that we may not be quite equipped to know.

That people on the other side of the globe are just that—people, nothing less. This epiphany is forcing us to question our own mentally isolationist tendencies. We’re brought up to think of the United States as the land of opportunity, the pinnacle of democracy and freedom. And that everyone else was, well, everyone else. Disjointed, different, apart, separate. But now that we’re seeing these people, now that they’re in our homes, on our laptops, we realize just how wrong we’ve been.

Before the age of technology, before Twitter and Tumblr and CNN.com, we could turn off the television and be done with it, forget that there was a war going on a few thousand miles away against some country in southeast Asia. Vietnam was the first instance when this global awareness took hold and people took to the streets. War footage was being broadcast live into people’s homes, and it started a near revolution.

There were thousands of people marching for peace in Vietnam, all because of the live war footage, but after the execution of a North Vietnamese soldier on live television, the media decided against it, against broadcasting honest depictions of the war. And as media became more conglomerated, more privatized and owned by a few, these images were seen even less, as they could harm public opinion on military actions such as The Gulf War, up through the war on terror. But then there was the shift, the early 2000s, the Internet making its way into people’s homes and onto their screens. But as we are more and more plugged in, we can’t just ignore it; it’s taking us by the shoulders and screaming in our faces. We can’t ignore the 80,000 people dead in Syria, and we can’t ignore the estimated 20,000 children stolen by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. We’re all connected. We’re seeing these things as they happen, the faces they’re affecting. We’re so connected now that we’re being forced to question our own aggressive nationalism. This national introspection is the first step towards the realization that we’re not one nationality or another, we’re humans. It’s what the evolution of technology is pushing us towards.


Augustus Stahl can be contacted at 


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