You’d think that the novelty of the internet would have worn off by now. But every so often, tapping away at my laptop, I’m bowled over at this power we have to be in touch with the rest of the world.
A glance up from my desk reminds me that I’m still in Hawkesbury Upton. Familiar horses trot past my window; neighbours flit up France Lane to the shop. Exotic, it ain’t.
But, look back at my screen, and I can be anywhere in the world. It’s like having my own personal teleporter: beam me up, Scottie, I think I’ll take a trip to Seattle.
A message has pinged in to my email box from an old school friend who lives there. As our village heads towards bedtime, she’s just settling down for her lunch. By the power of Facebook, we bounce one-liners off each other as easily as if we were in the same room. We’re as closely in touch as when we were children, talking to each other in the garden through tin cans linked together with string. Except, on the internet, the message comes through more clearly.
Clicking on my website traffic report, I find visitors from three different continents. From Korea to Kansas, from Dubai to Dubrovnik, people have been checking me out, even though I don’t know a soul in Seoul.
The news I pick up through this route is not the stuff that national headlines are made of. Food, drink, weather, hatches and matches are the most frequent topics of the posts by my Facebook friends.
But the sense of a unified, peaceable community, reaching way beyond our own Hawkesbury Upton, is overwhelming and enormously heartening.
There’s still nowhere else I’d rather live, of course. But it still feels good to extend the village boundaries across the ether now and again.
(This post was originally published in the August edition of the Hawkesbury Parish News.)