Like many of my fellow WordPressians, I find the country view statistics page fascinating. It’s a bit surreal to see how wide your “reach” truly is (and a good reminder to not put anything on the web that you wouldn’t be comfortable carving in cement on your front doorstep). Again, I’m not under any illusion that a lot of these hits are anything but accidental, as search engine terms meet in the conflux of wilderness that is the Internet. But like any good geek, I’m a completist, and there’s an indescribably giddy sensation that results whenever I check this map and see a new country colored in. The sad reality of the world, however, means that barring radical change, none of us will likely ever be able to complete the set.
Glaring exceptions like the over 1 billion people locked behind the Great Firewall of China continue to stand out. North Korea, where despots would rather build useless rockets than let their people watch cats dance on YouTube. Closed internet systems like the ones operating in Cuba and Burma. Iran’s Supreme Council of Virtual Space (ironic given that there are, according to Wikipedia, over 700,000 Iranian blogs.) The big annoying exception there in Eastern Europe, Belarus, where no website is allowed in country unless it has registered with their Ministry of Information first (can’t believe I forgot to send the form in again!) Afghanistan, or huge portions of Africa that are too poor to feed themselves or too consumed by tribal hatred to live in peace, let alone gain anything as First World-privileged as regular web access, are a reminder that this freedom that I and millions like me have to share our words is so very precious, and so terrifyingly fleeting – we need to guard it with our lives and celebrate it at every opportunity. And not only that, we owe it to the rest of humanity that what we are sharing is something worthwhile – worth whatever amount of time we’ve so humbly asked for your attention. Squandering a post on a mindless, misspelled profanity-laced rant about some band you’ve never liked is not only a waste of your own intellect and time, but it’s a virtual slap in the face to millions of people who would love to be able to read what’s out there and can’t because of poverty, oppression or a hundred other reasons that would never even occur to us. We owe it to them to always try to raise our game, to elevate the conversation and push things forward.
There is nothing as singularly powerful or resilient in the universe as an idea, and those ideas can spring from the humblest beginnings; an idle thought on a spring morning can one day come to change the world. On a blog, we don’t have to answer to an editor or fit a predetermined viewpoint based on an advertiser’s demands. We are ideas in their purest form, and participants in a grand tradition dating back to the first time one homo habilis showed another how to use a bone to smash open a piece of fruit (or, depending on your beliefs, to when Eve suggested to Adam that he take a bite of that fruit). So let’s make our ideas good ones.