Is the world round or flat? Round would imply that everything is, ultimately, connected. At the same time, flat would imply that distance between locations and both physical and cultural. Maybe, the truth is somewhere in between. Did you know that you can measure “as the crow flies” distances on the internet? Well, you can. The world just gets smaller and smaller!
As the crow flies means drawing a straight line between two locations, regardless of man’s having built roads along that path, regardless of mountains and rivers that might be in the way.
Today, I opened a blog page and on the side, saw where WordPress lists upcoming events nearby. Naturally, I thought this was a great service. But, only if I could fly like a crow and didn’t need a passport along the way. The meetings times could work for me. Wednesdays are my easier dates and while 6:30 p.m. isn’t a kid-friendly time for a working mother, I could swing it once in a while.
But that Damascus thing? How in the world could WordPress think that an Israeli could attend an event in Damascus, Syria? Yes, politics and all that but was there ever a time in the last 70 years when Israelis could easily go to Syria?
No, I’m not naive and I accept the futility of expecting computer giants to figure out that Israelis are unlikely (or can’t) visit most Arab countries. And, Malaysian citizens are forbidden from visiting Israel. For that matter, Mexicans probably can’t easily visit WordPress events in the US easily. More, going from Pakistan to India the same.
Can we expect others to know where we can and can’t go and to build it into their computer-generated rules? Probably not. So, where does that leave us? Well, there’s a negative and a positive side. Obviously, we can look at the world and be hopelessly saddened. Or, we can be amused.
For example, a friend of mine runs a technical writing school and she told me she once got a call from an Egyptian saying that he saw her course and wanted to attend. Obviously, she explained that the course was in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, he said he would “think about it.” Needless to say, he never called back.
And like that man in Egypt, I guess I can think about attending a WordPress event in Damascus. What I can’t do is stop wishing for a world where it would actually be possible for me, as an Israeli, to GO to that meeting. More, imagine if hey welcome me there!
The World and the Maybe
Maybe, just maybe, the most optimistic people in the world really are those algorithm writers. Because, it seems, they continue to refuse to recognize the borders man has created in the round earth God created.