Note: I am posting this again, because it had been deleted by VB during his clean-up. Thankfully, I had saved this peice to my harddisk. I Just want to be able to share this (which also happend to be my first post on this forum) with everyone.
One of the questions that Iíve been pondering lately is, are the benefits of so much instant communication really worth the effects that it has on the world?
Iím not really sure.
See, on the one hand we have all kinds of cool stuff going on because of it. The telephone started it, with people able to communicate across the country. Over time as the price came down, people started to get them in their homes. Within a generation it became possible to speak directly to your grandmother who lived in another state, or with the police department to report a prowler, or to talk to the girl in your English class who you could never find the courage to address in person. Between rapid transportation (cars in particular) and the telephone, the world suddenly shrank a lot. It no longer took a week to get a reply from someone by mail; you could just pick up a phone and dial.
Then along came the television, and we all suddenly were able to see what was going on in other countries. Not just read about it, but actually see in motion, and to experience it almost firsthand. We saw Elvis gyrate and the Beatles wanna hold your hand, we saw Kennedy out talk Nixon, and we saw man land on the Moon.
But with these great things came the ability to see with our own eyes the effects of war, the dishonesty of politicians, and a constant barrage of reports of local murders and fires and robberies. A lot of our naivetť was stripped from us in one generation. Things that adults used to discuss in the living room after the kids were asleep were on Prime Time, being forced down our throats. Advertisers promised the kids wondrous things which would make them the envy of the neighborhood, which turned out to be cheaply made plastic that cracked the first day. Vietnam was pumped straight into the living room. Watergate was everywhere you turned.
The innocence that my parents knew as children was already a thing of the past by the time I was born. The Boomers were the last generation to try to cling to idealism, to try to maintain a shred of beauty in what was revealed to be a cold and ugly world. They went to Woodstock, they hung out in San Francisco and thought they could change the world with love, they lived in communes and tried to get back in touch with Nature. Whether they realized it or not, they were trying to regain the innocence. Ask an aging Boomer about Nixon and theyíll stop just short of telling you he had horns and a tail. Why? Because he was just another piece of the process of hardening them. The President is supposed to be an honorable man, the greatest man in the nation, not just another human being whoís prone to corruption like the rest of us. Thatís what they really hold against him; that he was just another thrust in the gang rape of their innocence.
The Internet has taken all of this several quantum levels higher. Now not only do you get the mainstream media telling you just how shitty the world is, but anyone with time and a little knowledge of HTML is an instant publisher. Porn that was only available in seedy little storefronts twenty years ago is now only a few keystrokes away in your living room. Stile now brings us things that I couldnít even imagine five years ago. Accessing fairly innocuous pages brings up a pop-up advertising a tiny remote camera that you can hook up to your computer, with suggestive pictures of young women smiling at us to show us how easy voyeurism can be.
We're young at a time when the world is far more cynical and harsh than ever, at a time when if an email is delayed a day it can cause massive chaos at work, when if you donít have a cell phone and go for a walk people get angry that you were out of contact for an hour. The stress levels have jumped insanely and the societies of the world are really beginning to show it.
I know that you canít put the djinn back in the bottle, but that doesnít mean that we have to blindly accept and like it.