Lo, soul! seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?
The earth to be spann’d, connected by network,
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,
The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near,
The lands to be welded together.
--Walt Whitman, Passage To India
Of course, Whitman was not talking about the Internet but about the completion in 1869 of both the Suez Canal and the Trans- Atlantic Railroad. As always, the optimist assumes that enhancing the connection and familiarity among the people of the world will bring people together in greater understanding, love and friendship. The pessimist invariably complains about how all these foreign savages are now flooding our Fair Land and diluting our Civilisation with their beastly foreign ways, low morals, lazy disposition, and disgusting food. The cynic notes that the more people understand each other, the more they find to dislike and quarrel about.
On the whole, over the long course of history, the optimists win out. But it takes a damn long time.