Before the Internet, ‘provincial’ was so simple. Every town was a small-town. Even if you lived in a big city, your local neighborhood was your small-town, your province. You and your neighbors all had a world common to one and other.
But the world has changed. People rarely live in the same small-town, the same neighborhood, for long. At the least bit of hardship, the greener grass calls to them.
With the Internet age, we no longer even really live in our physical neighborhood. We live in the conceptual world we build for ourselves, with our links, tweets, blogs, and websites. Our province, our small-town, lives in our computer.
If the interpersonal realities of physical life become difficult, we can just pick up our laptop and leave. We can take our virtual small-town with us wherever we go. Our mentality can shrink into that virtual cloud and be reinforced every time we log on.
What a paradox. The Internet connects us to all parts and all perspectives of this earth. Yet, the tendency can be to whittle it down to a small-town, provincial-perspective collusion that is shared with our own personal small-town web of people from all over the world.
I am not saying the Internet is good or bad. It all depends upon your relationship with it. Does it reinforce a limited perspective? Does it support you by sharing your life with like-minded people? Does it deepen your understanding of your own provincial world? Does it limit your perspective, or does it provide deeper in-sight? Do the other worlds, accessible through your fingertips, call to you? Do they provide you with insight and understanding? Or do you judge them? Does the Internet undermine your personal values? Or does it support you as a unique cultural member in a diversely populated world?
Cultural and hometown integrity is in our roots. Geneticists will tell you it is even in our DNA. Yet, as we expand our understanding of others, we become members of the family of all humanity. The Internet, then, can strengthen cultural integrity or narrow it. The Internet can whitewash the world, or help us appreciate other cultures while supporting our own.
That is all up to you.