Writing At Night

I didn’t understand the whole “global” thing until today.

As a freelance writer, I’ve never had to think much farther than my own back yard. But I recently found an Internet site that connects writers with contractors, and today I was interviewed on Skype for a writing job by a Turk who lives in Dublin, Ireland. Once I passed the interview, I was directed to talk to a woman who lives in Jamaica who asked me to write about restaurants in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The obvious question, then, is why didn’t someone in Florida hire someone from Florida to write about St. Petersburg restaurants? (Preferably a writer who has actually eaten in one.)

And so, I researched and wrote for several hours about St. Petersburg restaurants and was rather pleased with the finished article because I’d never had a conch fritter or a margarita in even one of those places. I thought I’d done a great job pretending that I had.

A few minutes after sending my work, I was informed by the woman in Jamaica that I’d gotten the article all wrong. She thought she had asked me to write about St. Petersburg as a “destination” and not about their “restaurants” as if the two words are so similar they’re like Siamese twins.

That’s when it hit me. I’m living on a new earth.

Language barriers, weird time zones, pretending to eat in restaurants I’ve never been in. It’s all part of the new way of doing business. And if I don’t properly adjust, I will be out of a job. It’s now a digital, timeless world so throw away your watches and buy a laptop if you’re looking for work.

There are people across every longitude and latitude who are waking up at unspeakable hours for business transactions, global love affairs and to sell products to people in time zones that are open for business. I know this because my niece is marrying someone from France, and she’s had bags under her eyes for a while now.

For the first time in history, distance is dead. Maybe you didn’t know that at 1 in the morning Mumbai is the center of the business world. That means there are literally thousands of people who should be sleeping who are hovering over their laptops so they can be in Mumbai at 1 a.m. India wins the time zone competition for business because their zone shares part of the workday with 73 percent of the world’s top producing countries.

How do we explain this burgeoning global village? The most obvious answer is the Internet which connects billions of people at once. But there are more subtle factors, like widespread use of the English language and cellphones that easily connect people across the globe. Today, in fact, there are more phones than there are people.

When you think of how a small solar-powered battery and a laptop computer can change an entire African village, it is rather humbling. Technology allows the people of that village to have access to information – like how to produce clean water or to avoid diseases – and it changes their lives for the better.

There are downsides to globalization, as we know. Since the economies of the world’s countries and continents are so interconnected, it takes just one country to stumble financially, or one natural disaster to create a domino effect to the rest of the world. It’s hard to escape the fact that the lives of 7 billion people are so intertwined.

Unless you’re employed in a job that puts you in touch with this reality, you might not be aware how connected we really are to the rest of the world. It only became apparent to me this past week when I was given writing assignments from contractors in places a bit farther than my own backyard.

Today I am writing about audio systems for a website in Dublin, which should amuse anyone who knows me. I know even less about speaker wire than I do about St. Petersburg, Fla. restaurants.