After watching Ethan Zuckerman's TED talk entitled "Listening to Global Voices," I realized that like in so many supposedly 'groundbreaking' arenas, social norms still define the way we behave. Considering other social groups that form out of new modes of expression (art, literature, news, television), it's not difficult to spot the motifs of racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, etc. that pervade them. Mr. Zuckerman makes an important point: the internet is no different.
From a personal perspective, he's absolutely right. One thing that came to my mind was my behavior on Facebook. Until I met some Korean and Chinese students in my classes at UB, I'd never added anyone from the continent of Asia to my friends list, despite the fact that I easily could have in the past. I didn't have the slightest idea what their cities looked like, political issues in their country; all that information was something I could have easily found on the internet. But I never did.
Maybe this speaks to the fact that until something touches us personally--until it actually affects our immediate reality--we often lack not just the motivation, but the interest to seek out information on our own. Our attitudes toward our ability to influence change might also contribute to our lack of global communication over the internet. Many people (on my bad days, myself included) feel resigned to the fact that in a world dominated by a few wealthy corporations, our voices (and, by association, our knowledge) have little power to motivate any substantial social change.