A Big Sphere

January 1, 2024

Sometime ago, I was staying late at work for a meeting scheduled to accommodate three different time zones. One of the time zones was East Asia, and the person there was sharing her screen. I was weirdly delighted to look at the bottom right corner of the screen, where the time and date were the next morning.

And just last night, after we here in Eastern time zone (aka Best Time Zone) rang in 2024, there was the montage of celebrations from around the world when their respective cities hit midnight, truly a multinational joining in of the tradition of counting the years since Jesus’s bris.

It’s fun living on a big sphere.

It’s also fun living in a time with the technology where such a meeting like I was in and such widespread showings of worldwide new year celebrations is possible.

Our species began in Africa so extremely long ago, and from there we all just sort of wandered off. Across Asia and Europe. Over Indonesia and into Australia. Across the Bering into the Americas. We developed new appearances, new ways of life, new mythologies. And so scattered around the globe, we were isolated into our own little cultures and societies, knowing little to nothing about anyone else.

But over the millennia, we got to wandering again. We built stronger societies and developed commerce and sought to trade and learn from (and conquer…) one another. And over the centuries, the innovative species we are, we developed better means of travel and communication.

And now today we can get most anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. No vitamin C-deficient months on the high seas. Just hop on a plane and have the flight attendant bring you some orange juice, and you’re there by dinner time.

We can talk to most anyone in the world at any time. Within my own lifetime, talking to someone across the country meant an expensive and staticky long distance call. Knowing what was going on in some far flung place came entirely filtered through the mainstream news and leaders. Now you can just post and chat online with people directly and get the real story and a new perspective.

Some of us can fly way up into outer space and gaze upon the whole big sphere at once from orbit. Not just way-too-wealthy assholes flaunting their penis-shaped rockets over multiple impoverished countries they could single-handedly feed, but also satellites sending our signals around the globe and a space station made possible by international scientific cooperation. A mere 120 years after the Wright brothers got their weird contraption off the ground in the Outer Banks.

All the once scattered and isolated cultures know about and interact and intermingle with each other now.

All that time ago, we wandered off. Now we are in the age where our species has come back together again.

Happy New Year.