TT – world peace
What does it take for this world to become the place we always wanted it to be?
Well these are the thoughts that are circling around in my head for a few weeks now.
First of all I have to take you any illusion that this might ever happen. The world will never be the place we would like it to be. Secondly I have to disappoint you again: I don’t even have the answer to that question. ‘So why writing an article?’ you might ask. Only to disappoint you twice in the first paragraph of course. And because I can.
Thomas L. Friedman, triple winner of the Pulitzer Price, and author of the eye-opening book ‘The world is flat’, said in his introduction to one of the editions of the book exactly that. He claims he wrote the third edition of the book because he technically was able to do so. So is this why am writing this article?
When I grew up the world seemed to me like a universe, with unknown, seemingly dark corners never to be explored. I was afraid I would never make it out there without my parents. I was afraid, that I would never be able to see everything in the world, that I will never be able to grasp the wholeness of it. But then I grew up.
I am not old – as a matter of fact I am very young – but I have the advantage, that together with me technology went through its revolutionary phase. I grew up citing the sound of the router connecting to the internet, I grew up using Gameboys, mobile phones and computers like they have always been around. Because to me they have. I was the one fixing all issues with our computer, explaining the internet to my dad and I am quite sure that I was the first one in our family to discover the potential of clearing the history and cookies of the browser as the gateway into using the internet for porn without my parents noticing.
I used ICQ, MSN and Trillian just as much as various free forums, chats, dating websites and communities. I became addicted to social networks when myspace was the big deal and everyone had a website and / or a blog. I was online before facebook became a thing. I talked to people I did not know and I have never met and will never meet. Sometimes it was creepy, many times it was with the wish for love, a boyfriend and the first sexual experiences hanging in the air – and almost all the time it was exciting.
I went through my teenage times with the technical revolution putting strangers into my life as friends, numbers and nick names as the big crush and the online world as part of my reality. While I was growing up, the world turned from the universe into a lively, chatty marketplace. I still did not know every corner of the market, and I still did not know all the people I could possibly encounter and I knew I would never – but I knew the general rules.
I knew that whoever I would meet would be a person. A person with a very own history, a very own social and cultural environment and most of all very own wishes, hopes and fantasies. Of course I knew – and I experienced it on a very personal and intimate level: the internet and the people out there can be vicious. They can be mean, disgusting and heartless. But so could the people that you consider your closest friends, your family. When many of my best friends I had known for years in the real world left me hanging, I had strangers from the online world helping me. I had chat icons and imaginary hearts and kisses to find comfort in and email addresses to turn to for a talk. I learned to not judge a book by its cover – nor a person in front of you or the line on the screen saying “sweetboy123: Hi :-)”. I learned to give everyone the same chance and I got to know the excitement of discovering the stories and backgrounds. And I started to love the differences.
I am only in the beginning of my twenties and although I did travel a little bit I do not claim to have seen the world. But I do claim that I experienced more than one cultural shock. And I do claim that I did discover more differences than I ever imagined. But I also claim that I became comfortable with the majority of people I met during my trips – in the real world just as much as online. To me a friendship was not limited to the time of the encounter. Facebook was there and someone you met for an hour in a bar or who hosted you on his couch for the night was an option. An option to become a friend, an option to become family. And of course an option to become a partner. Geographical distances disappeared as obstacles. Trips into neighboring countries and even countries further away did not seem like a big deal for me. If I wanted to visit France – I did. I wanted to meet a friend from Israel, I went.
On an international symposium in Berlin this year, which I had the honor of organizing, Alexander Bessmertnykh, former soviet foreign minister and Ambassador to the US made a personal remark about his son. He stated that his son, being in his twenties, would be part of the generation ruling and changing the world. He stated that his son, who travelled a lot, belongs to a generation that would greet people from all over the world with open arms. A generation, which does care about cultural differences – but embraces them happily. A generation, which does not see distances as obstacles or otherness as a threat. I found myself in his words – and yes, I was damn fucking proud.
In the beginning of the article I asked the almighty and overwhelming question of how to make the world better. How to get closer to world peace.
I believe, that if we make social networking a little bit more social, if we use our options to travel more and if we question cultural differences as much as we questions people, we have all the tools to be the generation to change the world. The generation, which discusses different opinions during the day but gets together for a chat and an optional beer in the evening. The generation in which different is exciting and in which not only you and me are the same but they are as well.