The Long & Winding Road: Normal? Says who?

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An old native American saying says, ‘Grant me the wisdom to walk in a man’s shoes before I criticize him’ or if it doesn’t , it should! Not being flippant but what we believe and what we accept as normal depends solely upon our experiences and surroundings. There is no such thing as normal, thankfully, as most of us only score well in our own scales of normality!

Now, growing up in the UK , living in different parts of the UK and also living in the USA for nearly ten years until recently I have absorbed many ‘normal’ things many of which are bizarre when seen in the wrong place. Many times I have to stop and seriously remind myself where I am on the globe before I react to a situation. My mother says I have a slight American accent when talking to people in the States, people in the States often comment on my soft Irish accent, I hear no accent at all…for me it is all quite normal. 

Picture then, if you will, being in North Korea and accessing the Internet . Hard isn’t it? The most secretive country on the globe has its own form of the Internet, hardly the version we recognize but nevertheless it is there. In most of our opinions it is oppressive and restrictive but it is there. 

Ingenious folks outside of North Korea attach USB memory sticks to balloons and fly them in over the border so that the recipients can access information from the West. The phones have 3G speed but no Internet, only the ‘elites’ can access what we would consider ‘normal’ Internet rather than via the state developed version of Windows called ‘Red Star’…I know , original name eh?!
People there risk their liberty and lives just to access what we nonchalantly use everyday without a second thought.

It’s not just the poor souls in North Korea who battle against restrictions which you or I would hardly find believable let alone acceptable. In Iran things are a little easier as they are a little further along the road to Internet freedom…but only a little bit. In a rather cute move the government has launched its own video sharing platform called Mehr, which means ‘affection’ in Farsi. Here people can embrace video. Who would have thought?

Given the effect on world peace and political stability last spring when the use of social media and video in particular was instrumental in the advent of change it is far sighted for this regime to allow it in a controlled form.

This blog is not a political forum , nor do I wish it to be so but there is a point to this. As we speak, governments are meeting to determine how the Internet should be regulated and controlled in the upcoming years. If you do nothing else this week, please take a few moments to put your name to the on-line petition organized by Google to voice your concerns about over regulation of the Internet.

Short and sweet this week because the message is simple: Value what you have, protect what you have and respect what you have, it may save you one day!

see you on the long and winding road……. Patrick

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