A small, single-engine plane has crashed into a building here in Austin. It’s national news being covered on all the cable networks.
The site of the event is about five miles to the South of my house. I’ve driven by that building literally thousands of times…
… but for all that the crash directly affected me it might as well have been on the other side of the planet. Had my spouse not called, I wouldn’t have know about it until I did my lunch-break scan of Instapundit. I can’t even see the smoke. Everything I know about the event comes from the TV news.
In short, I have as much information about this local event as does someone elsewhere in America or, indeed, even the world.
Prior to the Internet, most news was local. An event such as this would have been known to the local population via the local media, and then only an abbreviated story would make it to the national news and no one outside the country would ever have heard of it.
What are consequences of this delocalization of news? Any individual only has so much time to spend consuming news. If we spend time consuming reports from all over the world, that means we displace our consumption of local news. We end up in the perverse situation wherein we know more about a community on the other side of the world than we do our own.
Will this further decouple us from our local communities? I know that in recent years I have paid less attention to the local news than I did pre-Internet. Will we grow more concerned about distant problems over which we have little to no input, and neglect local problems that we could actually fix?
I don’t know what the future will bring but this event feels very surreal.