The Obstacles of a Almost-but-not-quite-yet Globalized Society

Before I embark on my post this week, I want to briefly mention the film Brooklyn. I saw a pre-screening Monday night, and it blew me away. I almost wrote a review, but I would really rather not break it down or dissect it into its parts. It’s one of those films that I think each viewer should walk into with as much of a blank slate as possible. So what I will do is recommend that you go see it and then tell me what you thought. (See trailer here.)banner-brooklyn-Brooklyn_Film_844x476

If that isn’t enough encouragement for you, I will note that the writer, Nick Hornby, is the same gentleman who adapted the screenplays for Wild and An Education. If you emotionally connected with either or both of those films, you will find a similar connection here, though in a completely different context. An Education, of course, holds a special place in my heart because it is one of the movies that Josh and I copied for our engagement poster series.

Movie-Poster-Engagement-Photos-02Alright now moving on to the subject of this post: the obstacles of a not quite yet fully-globalized society.

Globalization is such a key topic these days, particularly because of technology such as Skype and WhatsApp that connect us with anybody, anywhere, and anytime across the globe. We can hop on a plane and within 24 hours be in a completely different culture and different language. Businesspeople frequently traverse the globe and effortlessly float from nation to nation and timezone to timezone. Internet sites such as Reddit and Twitter keep us up-to-date on world news, and commercial websites like Amazon or eBay allow us to purchase individual items from places we might never visit.

We are so used to crossing borders and moving between cultural spaces because of technology, yet at the same time, the technology and accompanying policies have not kept up.

  • While your phone works in your country, the moment you cross a national boundary, you run into all sorts of difficulties and exorbitant fees. What a pain it is to unlock your phone and switch out SIM cards. And then suddenly with smart phones, you are also fighting data battles and not just phone line battles.
  • Credit/debit card fees. Since fewer people use cash today, it is mind-boggling that we still have to carefully negotiate bank fees when traveling abroad. The easiest and cheapest solution is to withdraw cash using a debit card, but then you have to play a game of precision to make sure you don’t draw too much or too little cash–plus you have to lug cash around with you.
  • Television shows tend to run at different times depending on which country you are in. For instance, while Downtown Abbey might air in January in the UK, US residents might not get their hands on it until a few months later. Or in the case of Black Mirror, you may still be thwarted in your attempts to find the Christmas special.
  • Not to mention the frustration of DVD regions and NTSC/PAL.
  • Different electrical sockets and systems that render appliances difficult-to-use or useless outside of their manufactured region.

The net result of these types of situations is a fairly disgruntled populace, which is used to convenience and easy accessibility. So what do they do? They find workarounds, often illegal. For instance, in the case of television, people illegally stream or download shows so that their British cousin or friend studying abroad doesn’t spoil the big reveal in their favorite tv show yet to air at home. I think AirBnB is another example of a workaround, trying to bridge the gap that corporate hospitality groups created within global travel.

In some senses, I think contemporary society could be seen as entitled, demanding efficiency and convenience that is not really needed. But in other senses, there are some serious disconnects in the ways that society operates globally that do not make sense if we wish globalization to continue. And some pretty serious ethical issues are raised, such as the question of whether it’s fair to illegally download an item because you can’t gain access to the item otherwise. Illegal resistance is often the way in which regulations get changed, but once again, it might just be a reflection of an entitled society.

What are your thoughts? What other areas of technology do you think have fallen behind the rest of globalization? What ethical questions are raised by these disparities? Do you think society is entitled for pushing back with illegal workarounds? Share your thoughts in the comment selection below!

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