He argues that this is happening primarily because of the internet because we can now “do business” without ever really facing – and having to deal with – people who might not think, look, or act the way “we” do or with people who do not fully identify themselves.
Mr. Dunkleman argues that this balkanization (Yes, we have a word for it now.) is bad.
I don’t know…
Where and why, for instance, did the following frequently used “pre-internet” terms come from?
Wrong side of the tracks
Blue collar neighborhood
Yes, it seerms we have always had walls. Remembering the form that these neighborhoods took in Winona, one is reminded that each had its corner store, neighborhood gas station, and often a foreign language newspaper. In Winona, German or Norwegian boys wouldn’t even think of dating a young Polish girl.
And Winona was not so different from other communities in America. While America boasted about being a “melting pot” that pot often was not a pureed ethnic soup. Rather, it was a salad bowl richly endowed with individual ethnic components that retained much of their original colors and flavors.
Things changed after WWII. Soldiers came back from the war with no thought of the ethnicity of the other guy in the jeep. They married, built houses in new expanding “suburban” neighborhoods, and began to raise families. Many of the original neighborhoods lost much of their ethnicity. Through that shared war experience, neighborhoods became more “American.” But even these neighborhoods were often thought of as blue-collar or professional.
Was this bad? Is this bad? Moreover, is what is happening in these “internet” times somehow different?
I don’t think so. American society has always struggled with the “different” people in our midst. Even if our goal is to create a puree, we must begin with a bowl full of vegetables and, yes, in some cases, we may actually prefer a salad.
Indeed, after a period of eating only soup, there seems to be a preference for salads these days. The results of that move can be healthy in a “melting pot” society. In Winona, we have created the Great Dakota Gathering. In Minnesota gay men and women can now marry, work, live and pray (in most cases) alongside their straight friends and relatives. In America, inter-racial marriages are accepted. And in many cities, young men can now go safely across the tracks to pick up their dates.
It’s not what we end up with that is important. Rather, it is how and why we make the decisions that we do. In this country, those decisions are or should be individual ones.
In the United States of America, we must be free for ourselves to decide who we will work and play with, talk and socialize with, and how and with whom we wish to pray.
In our high-tech society that same freedom must extend to the blogs we choose to read, the websites we choose to support, and the Facebook friends we wish to identify.
While there may be walls, I see in them many doors and windows. And the doors are often open…
Welcome to Chinatown…
It is that simple.
Published by the Winona Daily News on September 17, 2014 under the headline: Society has a long history of building walls.