I cannot remember vividly when was the first time I heard the word: globalisation. But, as long as I can remember, that word has been always emerging in almost every discussion I involved. I heard the word globalisation in my school, in television, in mosque, and even, in my family’s dinner chat. Crane (2002, p. 1) is definitely right when says, “Globalisation has become an immensely popular topic”. Certainly, “globalisation is the main issue in the latest discussions” (Giddens, 1998, p. 28). Even Gopinath (2008, p. 1) argues that the news journalists often use the word globalisation to explain everything related to current affairs as if everything has something to do with this magical phrase: globalisation era.
However, no one can describe precisely what exactly the era we are living now as Giddens (2003, p. 7) notes, “We are being propelled into a global order that no one fully understands, but which is making its effects felt upon all of us”. According to Robertson (cited in Gopinath, 2008, p. 8), “Globalisation is a process by which we come to experience, or become aware of, the world as a single place”. Nevertheless, there are many other descriptions of globalisation since this term has come to different things to different country. In Japan, as an example, people call it guro-baruka which has different meaning from kokusaika or internationalisation while in Indonesia, the official translation is globalisasi, but some people loosely called it gombalisasi which is meant to create a meaning that globalisation is just a nonsense since gombal literally means dirty and useless fabric or crap (Gopinath, 2008, p. 7). This is a proof that globalisation can be perceived differently and these differences may lead to pros and cons on globalisation discourse.
Although there is no consensus on the definition of globalisation, people agree that it brings some impacts to our lives. “It affects us through the products we consume, when we travel, and in our work life” (Gopinath, 2008, p. 33). Indeed, globalisation is political, technological and cultural, as well as economic (Giddens, 2003, p. 10). The impact of globalisation can be found in every level of human life. In my personal experience, for example, the globalisation has changed the way I look at my self, my world and people around me.
Globalisation and Me
I come from a rural village in the southeast part of Yogyakarta, one of the provinces in Java, Indonesia. To get to my village, it needs around one and half hour by car from the capital city of the province. When I was in the elementary school, most of people in my village worked as farmers. Even my parents have some lands that were used as farms though they were not farmers. So, I grew up by learning how to plant rice, corn, or peanut. There were people who worked in my parents’ farms who taught me how to do that kind of work. At that time, for me, farmer was a high-level profession. I always wanted to be a farmer, until one day, one of my friends told me that we are living in globalisation era and we could not be just a farmer anymore. We had to be something more sophisticated. Thus, instead of learning about agriculture, I learned about media and communications, which were more popular at that time, and most of my friends, who could not afford university, chose to work as shopkeepers rather than farmers although sometimes they earned less money. That was how we understand living in globalisation era: pursuing a better job other than becoming a farmer.
Interestingly, that was also how our parents expected us to do. Most parents would not let their children to be farmers. They tried their best to create a “better life” for their children. They would not mind to sell their lands, even though they only have a very small land, to fund their child looking for a job or creating business in town. As a result, my village become very quiet. There were only elderly and toddlers who still stayed there. My village only become busy when the holy days are coming, such as Eid ul-Fitr (the holy day for Muslims) and Christmas. At these religious days, my village will be busy with people who come back from town or even overseas to celebrate the holy day with family.
Throughout my personal experiences, I visit my village quite rarely but when I come back, sometimes I feel that my village has transformed into a new place that is totally different from it was. My village is now becoming a globalised village, with less rice fields and more Internet cafes. It is now hard to find children helping their parents cultivating the harvests like in my childhood. Globalisation has changed the children from local naïve youth, into “globalised” teenagers who know better about fashions rather than plants. It has somehow made some people lose their root of locality. For that reason, some people may argue that it is the bad impact of globalisation. On the contrary, others will take it as just common consequences.
Having said that, I believe that the most important thing is not keeping the debate on the pros and the cons of globalisation. Rather, the best way to deal with globalisation should be take into account more seriously. In addition to the impacts, globalisation has enhanced the opportunity to experience modernism as well, so a villager like me can learn something new and out of my local experience. However, it should be noted that rather than replacing the local wisdom, globalisation should blending with it, so the famous slogan: “think globally, act locally” will not just become another ‘noise’ amongst other noises.
Crane, D. (2002). Culture and globalization. In D. Crane, N. Kawashima, & K. Kawasaki (Eds.), Global culture: Media, arts, policy and globalization (1st ed., pp. 1-25). New York, NY: Routledge.
Giddens, A. (1998). The third way: The renewal of social democracy. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Giddens, A. (2003). Runaway world: How globalization is reshaping our lives. New York: Routledge.
Gopinath, C. (2008). Globalization. California: Sage Publications Inc.