Having one thing in common is a starting point, a place where differences can be bridged. Whether you are talking about couples who are struggling through a divorce, the representatives of management and labor trying to resolve issues in the workplace, or nations who are trying to find a way to co-exist, the starting point is often finding something that both parties have in common, something they can both agree on. It’s not always easy to find such common ground, but it is the point at which the resolution to conflict and disagreement begins. Such commonalities should be celebrated.
Today, September 22, has been designated as the first annual global celebration of OneWebDay, a day to pause and think about how the Internet has changed our lives. It was conceived by Susan Crawford, a law professor and member of ICANN, who explained yesterday, in an interview with OhMyNews, what she had in mind for the event. Many events have been planned around the world to celebrate it. Webshots, a photo sharing service, is hosting photos that people take and tag with OneWebDay, and they plan to produce a collection of them.
My friend and fellow blogger, Tom Simpson, whom I met online but have never met in person, suggests in a blog post this morning that we may be the last generation who can remember what life was like before the Internet existed. And Tom is but one of many people whom I know primarily because of my connection with them through the Internet. I suspect that, like me, you too can identify many such friends who have come into your life because of this new medium.
And while the Internet has helped me make new friends in other parts of my own country and even locally, it has also enabled me to meet people from other countries, people like Colm Smyth, a fellow blogger who lives in Dublin, Ireland. And it has enabled old friends, like Jerry Pounds, to find me again after almost 30 years without our having any contact. Because of email I communicate with friends, relatives and even former clients much more frequently and quickly than I would have ever done if I had to write a letter, put a stamp on it and drop it into the mail. And as I have reported many times on this blog, I am able to talk almost daily by Skype with my friend Paul Moor who in 1995 moved back to Berlin to live out the remainder of his life. Paul and I met online back in the days of Echo BBSes and maintained and nurtured our friendship primarily through email but also with occasional face-to-face visits.
The Internet is one thing we all have in common. It is a starting point. Let’s hope that as we celebrate all the ways it has impacted our lives on this OneWebDay, we’ll see it as a way to build bridges that span the gulf that too frequently divides us.