Dr Shashi Tharoor, a prominent Indian parliamentarian, debated the case “This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies” initiated by Oxford Union. Dr Tharoor’s side won the controversial debate with 185 votes to 56. The Oxford Union published the debate on YouTube in 2015; since then the video has been watched by more than 4.7 million, liked by eighty-nine thousand, and shared by thousands on social media. The Union channel has been subscribed by more than 354000 subscribers, while the views it has received on its different videos are in billions.
Today humanity lives in a world where Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, Pinterest and Wikipedia have become the buzzwords. Today’s world aka global village is formed on an intricately weaved network of optic-fiber cables that have made it a well-connected place, giving billions of its inhabitants an unbelievable opportunity to simultaneously live on plain and in (cyber) space.
Oxford Dictionary defines global village: “A single community linked by telecommunications.” Unlike globalisation that is defined as a process that enables organisations and businesses to develop international influence, particularly in international markets, it is the inter-connectivity of people, bringing them close to the point where they can extract information and extend communication without any time-lapse. The technological revolution has led to the development of a cyber-community and a cyber-market, which has been unprecedented in human history.
United Press International (UPI) reports (2017) that out of 7.6 billion people more than 3.58 billion people, forty-eight per cent of the total world population, are internet users. The UN reported in 2016, that the percentage of internet users stood at 45.9, 3.4 billion. Although half of the world population is still offline, the time is near when everyone will ensure his/her virtual presence. CNN reported, five years ago, in 2013, the claim of Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman: “Everybody in the world will be online within seven years, by 2020.”
The foundation of a global civilisation was laid with the greatest geographical discovery: America. It was the discovery of a new continent in sixteenth century that put forth the idea of a worldwide, global civilisation which was to be further developed under the umbrella of colonialism. While the Spanish civilisation managed to go as far as Latin America, it was British legacy that reached everywhere: Africa, Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand. British Empire remained the throbbing heart of the world for roughly three hundred years. Even the common element of a colonial master, instead of shortening the distance between different communities, widened the gap between the people, dividing them on the basis of intellectual, technological, cultural and racial, and economic features.
The very incident of Dr Tharoor’s flying to London for participating in a debate is a salient feature of this global world; however, the very popularity of his vitriol on a social media website is a testimony to the fact that his censure echoed through millions of hearts (millions reciprocated the same feeling). His voice, along with the video, reaching to millions who took interest in the subject marks the emergence of a global community that pays heed to every voice that rises and embraces everyone in its infinity. There is a room for everyone: be it the one who delivered the harangue, or the ones who shared the video, or the ones who endorsed it with their appreciative comments, or the ones who out-rightly rejected the narrative of South.
In the meanwhile two poles apart civilisations strengthened their grip on the world, stretching the world into two poles: American capitalism and Russian communism. When the superpowers were conspiring to design a new world order, the technologists were burning the midnight oil to improve the computing system, which was going to change the world for better, and communication technologies, that have made possible the transport of information and culture across the globe, not to mention the overseas transport of one’s image through this network during a video call. This web goes farther than the British Empire and feels stronger than the capitalist pull.
Today’s human being is not only enjoying better prospects of living but also a better understanding of his/her whereabouts, with the world in his/her palm. As a matter of fact, s/he does not have to experience xenophobia, the social fear; in the wake of global village the fear of the foreigner ended with the development of better acquaintedness of the neighbours, be of next door or next continent. Racial identity which once led to ethnic identity is now replaced by a global identity, which enables one person to standup for another person even if the two have never known each other, even if the two are from different races, even if the two are from different regions of the world.
The frequently witnessed protest of the international community on the plight of humanity, be it ethnic cleansing or genocide, is one instance of an extended human community which is formed on the basis of humanity that transcends all identities, be it national, racial, ethnic, religious or cultural. In this global village the pace at which information is shared, relations are developed, purchases are made, causes are joined and ideas are propagated has been unprecedented in human history.
For the first time the world has been exposed to infinite possibilities of living, with better prospects of shaping the world and developing a shared culture. With the help of mobile technologies, say, smartphone and tablets, one can get access to any information from any location while social sites like Facebook makes communication and collaboration instantaneous. The citizens of this global community are more empowered and more united whether they have to propagate a political message, arrange a rally, organise a conference, generate a donation or run an NGO.
Interestingly, when the famous pop-singer Rihanna was featured in an advert “Would You Rather” slap Rihanna or Punch Chris Brown by the social-media app Snapchat, she posted about the unethical advert on her Instagram and asked her followers to leave the app, dropping company shares by a 5 per cent overnight.
The global village is all about a virtual bond between human beings who are connected through a network that brings them close despite the distance between them, giving an opportunity to understand one another’s grievances better. The way demise of Stephen Hawkins grieved, assassination of Benazir Bhutto condemned, Forty Rules of Loves cherished, education of Malala Yousafzai supported, victimisation of women shamed, emancipation of third-gender endorsed, Right to Education propagated and child labour disapproved by the international community are examples of better-connectivity and better-receptivity of global community.
In this global village, one opens a window that takes her/him to a world of possibilities. A world where learning is a piece of cake and knowing is a child’s play. With one touch of the finger one can virtually transport her/his image to remote places. Real relations are complemented with virtual ties. The virtual-self mostly treads the path unknown to the real-self. Blogs and Vlogs, e-books and audio-books, forums and messengers, online teaching and online distance learning, e-doctors and e-counseling: the contemporary world has devised new ways of living its old habits. This socially integrated unit fully understands its rights and frequently unites for mutual benefit.
When Netflix, a steaming service, announced increase in its pricing, 82,000 comments were made on various social platforms; after the instantaneous response of the consumers, the company lost two-third of its market share (800,000 subscribers). Speed is the specialty of this global village: the speed with which news/information travels and with which feedback emerges. Services are subscribed, products are shipped, groups are joined, admissions are acquired and scholarships attained without covering any distance physically.
When in 1964, Marshal McLuhan predicted a global village, it was a ground-breaking idea. “Today, after more than a century of electric technology,” McLuhan wrote in his book Understanding Media, “we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. He was the first to recognize the social effects of global village, a carefully-picked insightful term, where in real-time one part of the world can experience the events happening in another part of the world. Media, communication and technology have been rapidly, constantly changing the world; in less than twenty years it has transformed the global milieu; in another twenty years one can hardly imagine where it would take the global community.
However, one thing is sure: this village is a place where its inhabitants are still learning to live together, to support one another and to fight for the greatest cause of humanity. A day will come when the whole world will show up online and celebrate the triumph of humanity over medium and media, going beyond creed, colour, region and race, flying above fences, boundaries, jurisdictions and borders.