Gregg Easterbrook points out that 30 years ago and more, only the wealthy were able to take vacations overseas. We even had a phrase for them. They were referred to as the "jet set". In 2002, over twenty five million Americans took vacations overseas. Adjusting for population this rate of overseas vacations is 30 times what it was in 1900. Now, 200 million Americans, or about 70% of the population are members of the "jet set", hardly an experience only for the wealthy any longer.
The world has certainly become smaller.
My wife and I had 9 kids and I make my living as a Social Worker one of the lowest paid professions in the world, and yet my third child, Kelly, was able to go to China in 1986 when she was a junior in high school as a "community ambassador" from our village in Western New York State, Brockport, NY. What a thrill to see our daughter go from Rochester, NY to Chicago, to San Francisco, to Tokyo, to Hong Kong, and eventually into mainland China.
While I have never been out of the country myself except to Canada many of my children have been places like Mexico, England, Ireland, Germany, France in addition to Kelly's trip to China.
Having watched the plane fares, there have been times when it was cheaper to fly from Buffalo, NY to Paris than it is to fly to Disney World in Orlando, Fl.
It is not rare any more for Americans to visit exotic far away distant places. These kinds of journeys are common place and while interesting and exciting for the traveler not uncommon or of particular interest to anyone else.
Has this mobility and contact with diverse cultures made us any happier or wiser?
If it did, why are we so full of "terror"?