You used to hear the phrase, “what a small world!” in response to making a connection in some unusual place—it referred, for instance, to the surprise of being far away from home and running into someone you know, or talking to someone and discovering that your friend or relative knows his friend or relative…demonstrating that humanity as a whole is more interconnected than you would think.
Lately, though, as I walk around the UNT campus, it strikes me that the world is now small in a new way. Even though our society has the technology for your world to be, well, the actual WORLD, it seems that people are choosing to live in smaller and smaller worlds. As I walk to class and back to my car, it’s rare to meet anyone’s eyes—much less receive a smile—because most of the people I meet are wrapped up in their own small world.
A large percentage of the people I see have their ears blocked with headphones and their eyes glued to their phones. It seems to me that they are missing a lot of the excitement of being out in the world on your own for the first time, because they are in the same world they had in high school. Friend lists have allowed us to limit those with whom we have contact, but they also limit the points of view that we see and hear to those that are probably similar to our own. All these electronic devices let us keep in touch with people who are far away, but they prevent us from being in touch with the people who are all around us every day.
Granted, not all the students are like that. Not all of them are away from home, or on their own for the first time, either. Some of them are like me—transforming themselves by broadening their minds, and by that, expanding their worlds. I have met some students who are brave enough to step out of their insulation and live in the world with everyone else, and let themselves be involved. I have enjoyed them. They give me some hope.
But by and large, wherever I go, I run into people that are so wrapped up in their own small worlds that they are mindless of, or downright inconsiderate of, those outside the world they’ve chosen to believe they inhabit—even as their physical being exists and inhabits the real world alongside the rest of us. It’s as if they believe that if they haven’t chosen you to be in their world, you aren’t worthy of their time or consideration.
I guess my point is for each of you who read this to take a good look at yourself and your daily habits, and see whether you are living in your own small world, or in ours?