Labelling our world has been a human constant; it’s how the human world is rationalized. It’s something we all do in order to asses what we have and what we need to do. Labels are used for everything, whether it be people, language, or a country, and by labelling things we set them apart by the rest and decide on our stance accordingly. In his article “Lonely Places” Pico Iyer labels the countries he visited as lonely places and explains why these countries do not fit in with the rest and why they’re isolated. From the start, with Iyer’s explanation of the ritual he has with his friends in Cuba, the readers get a sense of what exactly he means by a lonely place. Describing the atmosphere in those countries the author tries to justify his reasoning for labelling these countries as lonely places. Labelling countries as “lonely places” is too biased and condescending because these places aren’t really lonely, and the term lonely adds a negative connotation that makes people look down upon them. The real problem with this essay, however, is the way he talks about these countries and the fact that he felt the need to label things, or places in this case, as anything when everyone is working towards globalization and a united world.
Describing the places he visited, Cuba, Australia, North Korea to count a few, the language Iyer uses is heavily biased and condescending. Although the heavy bias can be understood, given that this is a travel log, and he has no reason to be objective; the heavy condescension is at times too much that it makes it hard for the reader to take the author seriously. In one passage the author explains North Korea as follows:
This is how life is, I image North Koreans think...
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...to making the world a global community. A global community shouldn’t consist of places that are exactly the same but rather it should be build upon acceptance. In society it’s always taught that it’s good to be different and people shouldn’t judge others for being different or not fitting in because people should be free to express themselves and their opinions. Then why should globalization be any different? Why should countries try to be like others in order to be accepted and fit in to the rest of the world? Wouldn’t that make them loose themselves, their identity, turning them into a shell with no past, no culture. Perhaps what we should all be asking is why are we still preaching about globalization when most of the world is still unable to accept anything as it is, and look down upon and even in a way punish places, or people, for not fitting in with the rest.
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