Yeah, I know the versioning-suffix gag went stale in 2008, but I think it fits here. Two posts where people think aloud about post-geographical communities; the first is from Ian “Cat” Vincent, who wants to be considered a citizen of the internet (emphases mine):
I do not trust the government of the country of my birth. I do not feel any loyalty to them, or any other country, whatsoever. At best, I see them as an especially powerful mafia I have to kowtow to and buy services from. The closest thing to patriotism I have ever felt is to the Internet.
So, why can’t I take Internet as my nationality?
My own country’s government – run by a weak coalition government which is acting like they have a landslide mandate – is cutting vital services to the poor and disadvantaged to pay for deficits caused by their banking pals’ having been caught running the largest Ponzi scheme in human history… and their representatives have the gall to blame those poor and disadvantaged for the financial mess. Students are taking to the streets in protest. They are not my rulers, except by virtue of monopoly of violence and general habit.
When we’re at the point where The Economist refers to Anonymous as “a 24-hour Athenian democracy” I think it’s time to at least consider the idea.
Citizenship implies abiding by, and contributing to, a social contract. Doing Your Bit. I have to tell you I’m far happier doing that for the internet than for any state. It’s rules, customs and rituals make more intuitive sense to me than any state I have ever heard of. And yes, I would cheerfully give up my right to vote in the UK and EU for the rights and responsibilities of Internet Citizenship. (Dear David Cameron – that’s what a Big Society really fucking means.)
I am completely with Vincent on pretty much everything in that post… which will come as no surprise to regular readers, I suppose. But I’m sure we’re not alone, even if the urge to join a community where one feels one truly belongs may express itself a little differently. Jeremiah Tolbert:
I never seem to have much trouble finding community online. This year, my community online seems to be centered around Twitter. I have some qualms about having my major sense of belonging tied to something that is limited to 130 characters at a time, but it does work. And when you work from home alone day in, day out, having some way of feeling like you’re not alone is helpful. Twitter fills that role for me now. In the long run, I would like a “real world” community to belong to—something Rockwellian, only full of artists and creatives maybe. John Joseph Adams and I have talked several times about his notion of Geektopia—a community populated entirely by geeks who relocate to create a community of their own. If such a place existed—I would seriously consider moving there. We’ve been eyeballing the parts of the country where you can get free land. Problem is, building an entire town from scratch costs millions. So until we get some millionaire backing the idea, it will remain a pipe dream. But it’s one that I would love to see become a reality. Some day.
Until then, the internet is my community, for better and worse.
I suspect Jeremy’s not alone in feeling that way… and think about it: if an increasing number of people dissatisfied with the meatspace communities available to them all flock to the internet – which is, as if we needed reminding, a non-dimensional space largely defined by its proliferation of tools for community-building and its corrosive effect on geography – they’re in the best possible position to start building and planning a world that runs on their own terms.
And I suspect that’s exactly why the deep implications of the Wikiwars are so terrifying to authoritarians and nation-states; it’s the same reason the beech tree fears the ivy.