Globalization needs new ingredients

Like every other revolution, it doesn't matter how eager we were to make it happen, we were not as ready to deal with globalization as we thought we were in the beginning. Just like the invention of gunpowder, paper, or the printer, there are changes in progress and things we need to start changing soon in the agenda too. Else, the negative aftermath of globalization will spread instead of fade.

Globalization, the revolution started in the early 1990s, triggered by the fall of communism and the speed of technological improvements, has developed strangely in the subsequent years. Despite the fact it was supposed to promote freedom, and equality among people of all nations; actually, people seem to be more standardized and fashion-dependent than in previous decades.

There are some consequences of globalization, which have not yet been addressed, and I fear that not dealing with them properly could bring unwanted consequences in future years.

A few examples

+ Our new 'universality' is bringing us stress. Pagers, years ago, and mobile phones today have made us absolutely reachable and available for everybody, all the time. This might be very useful on the one hand, but on the other it prevents us from enjoying the moments of relaxation and solitude we all need to renew ourselves. As a consequence, the rate of stress has soared in the last two decades both for men and women.

+ Something similar is happening over the Internet, where you cannot keep easily focused on what you have to do. Instant messengers, the "favourite" websites, and other distractions are expanding our times and lowering our productivity worldwide.

+ Socialization changes have gotten close to ridiculous: People attack each other online posting things about someone else online. Everybody strives for having a photograph of everything. Friendships end just because someone removed someone else from a social networking site. People film each other while having intercourse, and share the videos! There must be something better to do with one's time —I am sure.

+ You cannot trust keeping your job, as a globalised market threatens it permanently. These days, companies that in the beginning were small like Hotmail, Yahoo, YouTube or Google have proven that a good idea can become a monster and devour the rest —including the hundreds of hours of efforts of other big and small companies that did not have their luck. Thousands of people can potentially lose their jobs in a matter of days or weeks. This is enhancing fear, promoting enraged competition, and deepening the gap between the rich and poor.

+ Our overrated individuality brings us both uncertainty and fear. The fact globalisation has opened the frontiers, shrunk the world and provided every individual the chance of doing whatever he wants has boosted loneliness and made the common person wonder 'OK, if I can do everything I want, what should I do first?'. As a consequence, globalization's overrated individuality has damaged the respect of traditional roles of law and authority, and left younger generations without a proper guide of correct behaviour. Actually, this can be seen in the job field too. Older professionals are always mentioning that youngsters usually ask for high wages in spite of providing very low-quality work.

+ We are in times in which you have the right to do everything you want, in which you can get a new right approved in a short time in a given congress, and in which the most important values are being annulled. There is also a despise of what is spiritual, deemed as boring, or non-productive. The Church is under permanent attack, while empty philosophies are on the rise.

+ Consequently, the lack of values such as respect and admiration has broken the role of leadership. New leaders become only puppets asked to lead for a short time, usually what their fashion lasts. For instance, the suicide of Kurt Cobain or the failure of Ronaldo in the final game versus France in 1998 can be understood as two milestones of this behaviour: They were two humans who were great in one thing. They were two men surrounded by millions of followers who wanted to be like them, and they were two people who succumbed under the pressure of knowing themselves less than what the entire world was expecting from them.

+ People might have a lot of stuff but they still feel sad, sorry, and empty.

In addition:

+ Now it is normal to see in popularity one of the greatest mechanisms to establish superiority and respect (direct influence of the 1990s advertising trend)

+ Now it is normal to impose your position even against the other person's will (direct influence of corporative behaviour between companies during the 1990s)

+ Now it is licit to confirm your position even through violence, to run over others if it is convenient for you, or to use violence as a way to protest against what you consider unfair (direct influence of the war caused by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the early 1990s, the invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies and the subsequent murder of Saddam Hussein a few years ago, and the attack to the World Trade Centre in the 2001).

Curiously, all these trends come from what Western society and culture has involuntarily imposed to the rest of the world.

Have these influences moved people closer to happiness? No. Western culture (by itself) has failed to bring us a better world for everyone, so it is time to start looking for other sources to supplement its very useful contributions.

Which ones? I would like to see the influence of the traditional Asian respect for traditions and the importance they give to family, honour and respect. I would like to see the elegance, courage, high culture and refinement eastern European people have traditionally shown. I would like to see the tenderness, worshipfulness and solidarity Latin American cultures have had even before Inca times. I would like to see the friendliness and love for nature African cultures have traditionally had too.

We both know they are much more than just stereotypes. Actually, they can make the world much more interesting.

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