I was just over at Dudge’s post about a few things on his mind, and one of them got me thinking about how the internet or perhaps more specifically the blogosphere is working to eliminate a lot of barriers between people of different races, cultures, and backgrounds. Now I know that we all have ideas about people from certain places, just as I know we can’t actually SAY that we have these ideas about people from certain places. So I’ll stick to American (the rules of political correctness seem to dictate-hypocritically-that one can indeed mock, belittle, and otherwise ridicule one’s own race, color, culture, and/or religion); I’ve written before about how we are viewed as Ugly Americans by many people overseas (and not only overseas, by those in Mexico and Canada–though “Gringo” doesn’t have the same connotation as “Ugly American,” it’s still more often than not used as a slur), and since that post, I don’t think our image has improved a whole lot.
But it’s been interesting to watch bloggers “meet” some of us American bloggers and begin . . . oh, I wouldn’t say to change their minds about us, but to at least be open to the idea that we can’t be easily and conveniently labeled “Americans” or “Ugly Americans” but that we are individuals with hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, and for many of us, a great love of shoes. Just like them. Wow, you mean all Americans aren’t rolling in money and tossing it about like kleenex? They worry about paying their bills, health care, and jobs? Wow, we do that, too. You mean all Americans aren’t heathens who’ve never set foot in a religious structure or who’ve never knelt and prayed to their God? Wow, we do that, too. You mean all Americans aren’t fundamentalist radicals bent of ensuring that the world worships Jesus or God or the Almighty Dollar? Wow, that’s news to us.
I’ve seen people make subtle ideological shifts in their writing, too, now whether this is because they are aware of an American audience or that they are actually opening their minds to the idea that we aren’t all “capitalist pigs” who are war-mongering, shallow, obnoxious, and naive (lovely, huh?), I’ve no idea. But the change is marked. Of course, it’s sometimes an aside that takes into account only the American readers of that person’s blog, but sometimes, sometimes it’s more. And that makes me smile happily. Or wryly. Depending on my mood.
A few times, I’ve even been singled out as the only acceptable American. Wow. (okay, I love that, I have to admit. Yay!) But my point is that blogland is changing the world in seemingly small ways that will eventually (I hope and think) change much of the global dynamic. The kids around the world who are tapping out messages and posts and comments to other kids in other parts of the world will one day be policy makers, voters, movers and shakers, and they’re not going to grow up with a single, myopic view of other cultures and peoples. They’re not going to be indoctrinated in hate, at least not as much as we were, not as much as the generations before us were. And that gives me hope: and that coming from a self-proclaimed crusty old cynic . . . hope? Well, well, well.
The first picture doesn’t really go with the post; it’s one I took at the park last week, but I like that the perspective is “looking up” and that the leaf is multi-hued. Seems to fit.