Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Technology, assimilation and delayed locational disconnect

Once upon a time, when you moved to a new city, you began to assimilate into that city rather rapidly.....whether you wanted to or not. In the past, when a person would leave a city, region, or country behind, they would become completely separated from the places they knew. In a new place, the immigrant would assume more and more qualities of the new home, influenced by the people, culture, and media influences around them. Eventually the newcomer may begin to identify more with the new place than the old. At one time this was the natural process. This process is called assimilation. In the past, assimilation was virtually assured as part of the natural evolution of the individual in a new environment. Today the process of assimilation can become somewhat complicated due to a new phenomenon that is taking place. That phenomenon is called delayed locational disconnect.

Delayed locational disconnect is something that occurs when a new immigrant in a new place has a delayed or completely arrested assimilation due to attachments to the old place which are preserved through the use of online technology. In the past when you left one place for another, you became completely separated from most of the influences of the past locale. Now, thanks to online technology, you have access to all the media and culture that you left behind. This can cause a delayed detachment where you are less influenced by where you are and more influenced by the media and culture from where you left. This causes the individual to have a delayed adoption of the local culture and values.

Sometimes this locational disconnect can work as a disadvantage to the immigrant or it can help shield an individual who might be living in a difficult local environment with reminders of home can make a difficult situation bearable. Individuals might also choose locational disconnect through online resources to remove themselves from a hostile political climate. Take for instance Iranian students who remove themselves from the local media resources so that they have access to a freer and more global range of media. In both cases geography becomes less of a factor and choice becomes a greater factor in determining the values one tends to posses. In the future, technology will play a greater roll in the way we live our lives, erasing borders and boundaries, while solidifying identities based on allegiances other than geography and local culture.


  1. i can see this occurring.

    i tried to make a move to boise, ID in 2003. i think if i had embraced the blogging community prior to making the move, my sense of isolation in boise would have been diminished, and i could have made a go of it.

    my moving back to san diego quickly, though...still a good thing.

  2. Thanks for your input! I had the same experience living in Brownsville, Texas. Blogs, news, and streaming audio diminished my isolation from SF by making it feel like in a way that I was still there. It also helped me combat some of the negative influences of fatalism which I felt weighing on me on a daily basis there.