We never have been as mobile as we have been today.
At any given time, there are between 13,000 and 16,000 flights in the sky.
Each year millions of people jet set around the world for various reasons. Global superstars like Beyonce and Elton John cover thousands of miles a month in the service of international music performances. Businessmen with meetings to attend, rack up miles for the sake of more zeroes and ones in bank accounts.
‘Normal people’, (if there is such a thing) are still the majority of flyers in the world. We fly for the most basic reasons. To see another part of the world for a holiday, to visit family or, perhaps most importantly, to emigrate.
I’ve spent my whole life here in the United States of America. My move from Silicon Valley, a near 2,000-mile journey can not be technically counted as emigrating – I stayed in the same country after all. However, the distance travelled is further than a move from England to Spain (around 1,200 miles) and the change in culture is more significant than you might first think it would be.
Working in the heart of Silicon Valley, a humming hub of graduates and high-tech startups, could not be any different to my life here in Minnesota.
I used to live in a huge apartment complex, an air-conditioned tower packed to the brim with software developers and digital architects. I was one of them of course. The exorbitant rents rates made a small dent in our sizeable pay packets, but there was little intermixing regardless of the common ground that we shared.
Although we were surrounded on all sides by contemporaries, all of us bored souls who were in need of social stimulation, I’d never felt more lonely. The irony was not lost on my current ‘neighbour’ who laughed when I told him this, imagining dozens of middle-aged nerds like me simultaneously pining for human contact whilst consciously retreating from social situations.
My little lodge may well be in the middle of a rather desolate looking field, but that doesn’t mean I’ve continued to live the solitary life of a 21st Century hermit. Irony of ironies, now that I’m the only soul for miles around, I’ve found myself meeting more and more people. Whether it’s at the supermarket, chatting nonchalantly whilst picking out groceries, picking up a 6-pack from the local off-license or simply getting a haircut; I’ve found that now I’ve got more space to breathe in my day to day life, I’m so much more interested in meeting new people.
The good folks of Minnesota are more than willing to oblige as well.
There are two opposing stereotypes that relate to the nature of country folks. One of them is of the angry redneck, a farmer who is eager to exercise his right to bear arms and has a more than few hangups over the Civil War. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the overly friendly bumpkin, who brings over baked goods and imposes on their new neighbour.
Jacob, essentially my only neighbour for miles around, is neither of these. Like me, he’s a man who enjoys his own company, but knows that time spent alone is as much as an indulgence as it is a waste of one’s own existence. When I first arrived here, I thought I was the only persons for miles around, but within a couple of days time I found a wrapped bottle of whiskey on the porch and an invitation for dinner. Far from appearing sinister, I was pleased that I’d found another person who prefers to inch into a friendship, rather than diving head first in.