The world is far from perfect.
The above statement does not need any justification. Anyone who has drawn breathe (and is old enough to think about having drawn breathe) will acknowledge it as self-evident. How much “imperfection” we are willing to accept is influenced by a number of factors. In this little rant I am going to focus on PROXIMITY and how this factor has become increasingly relevant through the spread of information technology and social media.
Proximity simply means how close something is to you. Generally it is measured in distance and considered as geographical. If leprosy or the Ebola virus is rampant in your town then you are far more likely to be concerned with this specific imperfection in the world than if you live in Alaska. Again, pretty obvious? If terrorists fly a hijacked plane into a building in Omsk in southwestern Siberia then in Australia we may not even see it on the evening news. Do the same thing in New York on 0911 and the impact reverberates forever. Both Omsk and New York are roughly equidistant from Australia’s broad shoreline so you could argue that in terms of proximity they are “equally close”. So why the massive difference in interpretation?
As Australians we regard ourselves as a “Western” culture politically and socially. We are allied to the United States. We see and hear about events in the US constantly. Even if we have never been there, or have no inclination to go there, we are likely to feel proximate (very near) the US because we have been conditioned so. About all I ever learned about Siberia was that they have salt mines … don’t they? Back when a phone looked like this, the only way you could get the result of the weekend round of Rugby League (now NRL) was to ring a special number at the PMG (now Telstra after a million reincarnations in-between) on Sunday evening and listen to a very proper voice announce the score. Nothing more just the score. For example Round 17, 1973 … “St.George versus Cronulla-Sutherland … pause … St.George 15 … pause … Cronulla-Sutherland … pause … 10.” How things have changed. Now I can watch live NBA on my mobile phone travelling at 320km/h on a Shinkansen.
Is it any wonder that a person can now feel “closer” to an event 10,000km away than something happening in the very next street!
Back to the title of this post (when I say “back” I recognise that I haven’t even been remotely on topic so far), so I need a decent segue! Our newly appointed Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was recently quoted as saying, “ISIL have more smartphones than guns, more Twitter accounts than soldiers.” Let’s think about that for a moment … through the eyes of say Derek Zoolander …
Interviewer: The Australian PM has said that, “ISIL have more smartphones than guns, more Twitter accounts than soldiers”. What do you think about that Derek?
Derek: The Malaysian Prime Minister said that? Wow! So that means that like Apple & Googley are responsible for the rise of the Death Cult? Steve Jobs would be pissed!
Communications & technology have ALWAYS been central to warfare. We celebrate the efforts of Pheidippides in 490B.C. when the Olympic Marathon is run every 4 years. Imagine how his life would have changed if instead of running from Marathon to Greece he could’ve just tweeted “Victory” on his i6+ ? Think the enigma machine invented by German Arthur Scherbius and the decoding work of Alan Turing in WWII. The Cold War “Arms Race” between the US & the Soviet Union was an example of a technological dick comparing session of global proportions. During the Gulf war, we the public were introduced to modern warfare on our TV screens (and PC’s for the advanced / fortunates), when detailed images of bombs dropped by fighter aircraft hit their targets in Kuwait & Iraq. The war was in our lounge rooms and suddenly closer than Mrs Smith in Number 17, two doors down … PROXIMITY.
The ‘ko-down’ on ISIS …
We shouldn’t be scared of ISIS. The minute Tony Abbott said we should be, I knew I was safe! There has always been, and will always be, “enemies of the way we live our life”. ISIL are vile and evil. So was Saddam Hussein, Hitler and others before them. Indeed an Iraqi will think the same of Obama … after all aren’t all American Presidents mass murderers? All that has changed is that Daesh is closer to you than any of their predecessors … in fact they might be in your pocket right now!