Australia is the world’s largest island and smallest continent, mostly detached from the rest of the world. Exaggeration? Certainly not! While sitting on a busy New York City subway train last November, my friends and I discovered that we weren’t the only Aussies taking a bite out of the Big Apple; the packed carriage was predominantly occupied by Australians. Yes, this may be just one example, but even if we concentrate on the idea of differing international time zones, it is clear that this country is somewhat segregated from other nations – Australia, undoubtedly, is the Land Down Under.
Now, with globe trotting comes an inevitable process that causes disorientation, bizarre sleeping patterns, and at times, a severe case of grumpiness: jetlag. Speaking from experience, I have spent days in foreign countries, torn between the desire to venture outside and explore, and the necessity to allow my body clock to adapt to the new environment.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) have played an integral role in attempting to bridge the digital divide between countries of the world, allowing people to form and sustain relationships, particularly through the World Wide Web. I have spent hours on Skype having conversations with friends I made overseas, as well as writing emails and Facebook messages. Indeed, ICT have definitely made it possible for people to break physical boundaries and communicate internationally, but there is one problem that can not be solved by even the most advanced technologies: differentiating time zones. It is difficult, frustrating even, trying to organise a time to speak with someone who lives in say, the US. Australia is 14 hours ahead of America, making it increasingly difficult to talk to one of my best friends who lives in Albequerque, New Mexico and my boyfriend who lives in Buffalo, New York.
Ah, but don’t fret, my Bits & Bob-sters (seriously, I am just waiting for a publisher to ask me to write an Ellie-dictionary), the negative impact of time zones can be defeated. My boyfriend has traveled from the US to Australia, staying with me for six weeks. What this means is that we don’t have to sit for hours on Skype at random hours of the day, anticipating the disconnection of the Internet, or uphold our relationship via daily emails. This solution does involve burning a hole in a person’s wallet, but there are positive results of such action – discovering new cultures, meeting other travellers and locals, and overcoming geography as a relationship setback.
Luckily, there isn’t one of us out there who has to be conscious of physically traveling between the past, present and future, like Henry De Tamble from The Time Traveler’s Wife (Bits & Bob-sters: read that back ASAP!). Then we’d really be in a spot of bother, wouldn’t we?