Monday, September 6, 2010

The Age of Outliers

I have just had a eureka moment as I was reading an article about a Quran burning ceremony taking place somewhere in a remote location in America. The author wanted to kidnap the pastor for such an outrageous event which he rightly points out would anger Muslims across the world and may lead to more revenge attacks against Americans. In response to the article, someone stated that it was a complete non-event as no one probably was going to attend the ceremony in that remote corner. His advice was that main stream media should stop giving coverage to such people as they represent no one. The same argument could be made when the cartoon controversy emerged. An unknown newspaper published a few cartoons and that triggered a chain reaction which was felt across continents. The same was the case with the "Draw Muhammad" day. Nine eleven could be thought of as a super set of such outliers where 19 unknown youngsters hijacked planes and rammed those planes into buildings.

My hypothesis is that as the world is shrinking and becoming a global village, then these outliers and their intensity is increasing. The world has gone through major upheavals instantly because of the wired nature and connectivity of this global village. A few decades ago the world was not connected hence every incident was localized. No one in Pakistan would hear about Quran burning ceremonies in some remote American town or vice versa, no one in some remote American town even knew what the Quran was. The internet/media/etc were meant to educate people but have actually spread rumors and misinformed opinions like wild fire.

Previously, people in the west were educated by Muslims about Islam. With the human element missing, Islam looks and feels a lot worse. In addition gross uninformed articles and rubbish is spewed out on the internet to defile and defame others, both collectively and individually. The same goes against the west as well, as many Islamic extremists are able to spread their distorted messages with ease and are able to target a much wider audience. 0.0001% of the people of this planet are now capable of influencing and changing the coarse of history. 

These upheavals in world history will be more frequent with the current connectivity and we must welcome ourselves into this New Age of Outliers.

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