Why the world’s liquid, not flat.

by Laurent François

When I read Friedman famous essay claiming that “the world is flat”, I was pretty much bored. As I was living in Europe, and experiencing probably more local economics than in the US, I was wondering if this thesis was just another joke in the marketing-killer-application-or-theory field.
The book was finally a big success.
The good thing with major theories you don’t agree with is that you get the full opportunities to try to dismantle it. It’s like neoclassical economics when you’re keynesian: you want to open fire through a most brilliant demonstration.
If Friedman is to my eyes pretty wrong, I’m totally fond of 2 authors: Zygmunt Bauman and Ulrich Beck.
Bauman shared some nice statements:

“In today’s world people have many reasons to fear. We can easily create a catalogue of risks which a young person faces today, yet it is impossible to complete this catalogue because the real causes of fear are dispersed and unclear and very difficult to define, which makes them even more threatening. A young person who has spent many years getting an education and building professional skills could become worthless on the market because the job he or she was hoping to get when starting his or her studies was transferred to Cambodia. Also, his private life is torn to pieces because his life-partner has found greener pastures.

We could list thousands and thousands of these liquid elements in today’s reality which threaten to sink you. They all cause some kind of general angst, all the more so because the map of this fear is faded and unclear. The more dispersed and indefinite is this fear, the more desperate is the search for concrete objects or persons who can be blamed for it.”

That’s it: liquid modernity. “Before”, it was pretty easy; if you had a problem, you had to go to your family, to your church or to an institution and you had your answer. Now you have to face so many problems but you don’t have enough time to solve them all. So for most of them, you have to ask your peers, the man of the street, some insights. And the man of the street’s name can now be Google. And because the issues are in your daily decision-making process, the world cannot be flat. The world can only be liquid, liquid because it’s now a feed. And you have to feed yourself with the thing you know. Only for a mobile phone can you share some consumers’ reviews with the planet. For health, for the water you drink, for politics, for so many fields, the scope is local.

I called this blog “liquid, not flat” for this reason. Because I truly belive that if the web broke some barriers, it also created new ones. They are now more than ever social, cultural. Problem is that now, we can all see it. Unless we’re blind. And more rationaly try to actively listen now to all these voices, from all over the world.

To conclude with Beck:

“And therefore we must seek dialogue in this networked world. We must ask which voice was actually attempting to make itself heard and saw no other possibility of gaining a hearing. To that extent, for a while this also represented a forced opening of a cosmopolitan view.”

The world’s liquid, not flat.

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