Thursday, June 19, 2008

A State of Mind

Few places are changed as effectively in the age of the Internet, as Hawaii has been in the last decade -- because while its geographical distance remains the same, it has been brought much closer to a wider community around the world -- who still feel some bonds with the Islands’ culture and society. Nowhere is that more evident than on the discussion forums of the daily newspapers, where many of the comments are identified as coming from “Hawaiians” all around the world. In that respect, they may make a quantum leap towards a universal consciousness -- from a formerly provincial (if not tribal) one.

At least some will. They will be those who are plugged in to any affinity group they feel comfortable in -- which will ebb and flow like many subcultures do. One of the initial successes that brought many to the Internet to stay, was the boom and success of online investing -- and when that busted, they remained and wandered onto the other areas of special interest -- including and especially, the politics and world developments at the beginning of this millennium, because they obviously had such a tie-in and impact on world markets and their personal fortunes.

A lot of things used to go on in Hawaii because the newspapers controlled what information the people in Hawaii were aware of and allowed to see -- often censored (they’ll claim it never was) by the powers that were or wanted to be -- or thought they were, since nobody could tell them otherwise.

Governors would often proclaim that the universal laws and principles in effect everywhere else in the world, did not apply to Hawaii because this was “paradise,” which implied that they were perfect and beyond criticism because it was the will of the ancients (gods), that it must be so. It simply “MUST” -- and there was no use arguing about it, or even questioning it.

Eventually those who were too adamant in their refusal to “go along to get along,” were exiled elsewhere so they no longer had a voice and presence in this “local” affairs. Surely, their interest would wane with the embargo produced by the inherent difficulty of obtaining information and maintaining contact with the Islands -- as had been typical of the past.

But the Internet changed that -- and made “Hawaii” just another local community like many others. Geography was no longer a boundary that mattered. Every "community" became just a voluntary association of people.

That’s also what destroyed old politics -- rooted as it was in geography rather common interest. One is no closer to a neighbor one has little in common with -- than someone on the other side of the world that one sees the world familiarly with. That is a very strong and compelling involvement and engagement -- that is anyone’s, anywhere community.

Community’s are shared values -- more than they are just shared spaces. That’s how the world changed -- and few noticed it, but everything had already changed.


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