November 23, 2015


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Do you need a land to have a country?


Our borders are no longer absolute barriers. Our culture is constantly changing. Countries are evolving at a rapidly increasing pace due to economic change and demographic change—which then turns into cultural change.

Recently, a thought had occurred to me: How important is country?

I love my country. I love its history, warts and all. I love the idea that it aspires to become, even when it falls short. But how important is the idea of a physical country in today’s global communication age? Do we need more of a global cultural identity rather than a regional one? What would that mean, practically?

Ideas can be spread and communities can be built quickly and internationally. You have entities like Facebook that can affect cultural and personal experience across all geographies. They can affect and create language in a way never before possible. Think about that. All Facebook has to do is create a function or a piece of communication like an emoji, and it can become a global cultural artifact overnight. This is new territory.

At what point does something like Facebook become a country? What is a country?

Webster defines a country as:

: an area of land that is controlled by its own government

the country : the people who live in a country

: an area or region that has a particular quality or feature or is known for a particular activity.

If you redefine land as a virtual space rather than a physical space, places on the web can be thought of as a country. People “live” there by spending time and attention in the space. There is a governing body in a place like Facebook—the company itself. It’s a place where people come together for a common purpose, develop a common language and feel a connection to. At what point can you have a virtual country?

And if we belong to virtual countries, what does that mean for the physical ones we occupy?

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