Orwell and the terra incognita

Came across this passage in George Orwell’s little-commented-on novel The Clergyman’s Daughter:

The fact is that people who live in small country towns have only a very dim conception of anything that happens more than ten miles from their own front door. The world outside is a terra incognita, inhabited, no doubt, by dragons and anthropophagi, but not particularly interesting.

The book was written in 1934, but even some eighty years later in the age of the Internet, it still commands a certain resonance. Geographical boundaries have been smashed; in theory, today, there is no reason why the country folk Orwell speaks of should be so disconnected from the grander proceedings of the world around them. For many all over the world, however, global events may as well be taking place in some distant and mostly-irrelevant other world. Philosophically, with the rise of individualism and our tendency to self-conceitedly focus on the minutiae of our own personal lives from day-to-day, one could certainly argue that humans are more atomised creatures than they have ever been.

Perhaps technology has allowed us to be “closer to the action” than in generations past – but somehow, through an unfortunate combination of enlightened self-interest and a “one in six billion” sense of powerlessness, we care less? I am sure the author would have appreciated the irony.