I had originally planned on attending C2E2 this weekend, but some personal things came up recently that will prevent me from going. My disappointment lies primarily in that I won't be able to meet with other comic friends that I don't normally see in person. That's not really serendipity, though, as it's kind of the point of comic book conventions: to become a central meeting place for fans and professionals. (I only mention it here because I had previously said that I would be in attendance.)
Last night, it occurred to me that an old friend of mine, who owns her own business, actually does a fair amount of work with some Japanese companies. I wrote to ask if any of her colleagues were hurt (or worse) in the recent disasters. Turns out that one of her own employees was in Tokyo during the earthquake! She survived, as did her Japanese counterparts who went above and beyond to help her get back to the United States.
The first thing this does for me, of course, is make the disaster much more personal. I don't know the woman who was over there, but I know her boss. And I don't doubt that she was absolutely wracked with worry when she first started hearing reports out of Japan. And while her Japanese colleagues were also spared, the quake and tsunami created a lot of damage and has almost certainly disrupted their business. Which will almost certainly disrupt my friend's.
Who else do you suppose that disrupts? It's easy to say "pretty much everybody in Japan" but that includes a lot of manga producers. I haven't heard of any specific creators who've died as a result of the problems, but the death toll so far is around 7,000 with another 10,000 still missing. And the number of homeless is upwards of 400,000. Factor in the rolling blackouts and the clean-up that needs to be done. Every industry in Japan has got to be impacted here, including manga production.
What do you suppose that does for companies outside of Japan who rely on that material to get their own work done? Places like Tokyopop or Viz. Those disasters halfway around the world have a fairly direct impact on folks here in U.S. beyond the ones who have family over there.
We live in a world in which news is ongoing and instantaneous. We saw the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in real time, and have watched the struggle at the nuclear power plant live, and heard the voices of people crying as they found their spouse dead. But the interconnectedness that allows for that transmission of words and images also carries with it connections. People who now talk over great distances do business over great distances, make friendships over great distances. That six degrees of separation is much smaller now than it used to be, and a lot faster as well.
I'm sitting in southwest Ohio as I type this, and I'm "listening" to conversations happening at C2E2. I have friends and co-workers there. In less than 30 minutes, I'll be on the highway and, before midnight, I'll be across town from them. I won't see them in person (those personal things I mentioned earlier) but I can still chat with them. 300 miles away or 30, it doesn't matter.
The world's a pretty small place when you think about it, and the pebble that's dropped in a pond 5,000 miles away causes ripples that impact us all.
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