Connections near and far

You don’t have to be local

I came across this most fascinating take on the tension between local and global by Derek Sivers. It’s something I’ve been looking into and thinking about in my research studies.

Sivers defines the two as such:

If you’re local, then you’re probably social, doing a lot of things in-person, and being a part of your community. But this means you’ll have less time to focus on creating things for the world.

If you’re global, then you want to focus on creating things that can reach out through distribution to the whole world. But this means you’ll have less time to be part of your local community.

In his conclusion, he strongly affirms that he is more global than local, that he prefers the global connections and work. Consequently, he spends less time in his immediate, physical community.

This post resonated with me because for a while, I’ve had some guilt about not being able to invest more in our local community here. Time really was a scarcity and some of it I chose to spend on my online work and projects and thus had this feeling of “losing out” on local opportunities and relationships.

It’s almost a new kind of normal to be as connected with folks far away as much as we are with people in our immediate physical environment. As Sivers points out, it’s highly possible to be MORE connected with those afar than near.

Can you even imagine this in a world 10 years ago? Even 5 years ago, smartphones and tablets, and more to the point, the social apps that they host, were not nearly as common as they have become in the past couple of years. They probably have a lot to do with enabling us to be connected the way that we can with those far away from us.

The thing to remember, though, is that the quality of that connection, of those relationships, are key. I know that having a lot of online friends is not the same as having deep, thoughtful relationships worked out over years of shared wine and story telling. That’s not to say that you can’t cultivate that kind of friendship with people far away online. But it really takes work and personal investment – of time, commitment, and sometimes, emotion – to make those global connections into something of value. This isn’t any different than what we do with people in our local community, it’s just that the nature of “meeting together” is different by way of location.