Social Implications of Globalization as Deterritorialization.
Here 'globalization' entails a “reconfiguration of geography, so that social space is no longer mapped in terms of territorial places, distances and borders.” Deterritorialization (or delocalization) essentially destroys the face-to-face interactions in localities, by connecting people (usually through the internet) online world-wide. Think of it in terms of banking or retail. Prior to the web, face-to-face transactions were a thing of norm. Transfers, deposits, checks, even setting up accounts involved driving to the bank and meeting with a teller. For retail, you’d go to a mall or store, browse their goods, select what you want to purchase and give them to a cashier to check out. In both cases, there was a face-to-face transaction and a local social space at which this transaction occurred. However the rise of the web and its growing familiarity has brought forth a new definition of globalization by razing territories.
Banking today is done online, online statements, payments, transfers, etc. and the hub at which these events are done maybe in a different state. Shopping now consists of Amazon.com, Ebay or simply “insertyourfavoritestorehere.com”. The idea of territorial boundaries and local retail are diminishing for convenience. Now I can sit at my computer, not worry about what’s in stock and not have to deal with the always-cheery or always-bitchy cashiers. And my product is shipped from anywhere in the world, Japan, China, Russia, New York, there are endless possibilities. Online retail has essentially created a deterritorialized world.
But does delocalization have its social consequences? In creating a boundary-less world, we’ve also created a world that has to connect digitally in order to participate. How does this affect social behaviors?
During the past few weeks in our New Media Cultures class, we’ve discussed boundless worlds through online gaming, such as Second Life. Here we take retail to level of a virtual community, connecting people across the globe to one digital social space. Does this raise consequences on local socialities? Try as you may, local spaces will always be prevalent; most of us are employed locally, attend classes locally (although the online class trend may have its way) and socialize locally. However what happens if we make a trend towards complete boundless worlds that require a digital device to connect? A perfect example of a social consequence to deterritorialization that comes to mind is Minnesota’s virtual high school – although it has benefits for the mentally impaired, the socially awkward use it as a gateway to further deteriorate themselves from standard social procedures. All of us in our lives will indeed have to face another being in the flesh at some point, should we not be taught the correct social skills? What happens when we are forced to meet the deterritorialized in the real world? South Park’s episode of the dried up internet lays out a perfectly plausible outcome. When Stan’s little sister meets her online lover Amir at the Internet Refuge Camp, neither of them possess the social capacity to mutter the love-sayings they are so comfortable in expressing online. Even Disney’s bleak movie Wall-E supports this theory, that with a digital world, there is no need to socialize face-to-face. Is there a way to teach proper outside digital social skills? Or are we all doomed to be the human-like globs of Wall-E?