There I was, in the American Airlines club, awaiting a flight taking us from one event of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians to another, hurrying to complete one of these Musings. As I opened my computer, up popped a window telling me where I was and asking if I wanted to sign in. Is it creepy or cool that they knew where I was?
My life is enriched by technology. Super communication has tremendous benefits. I love ordering something online and it showing up two days later at my door. I appreciate getting back to work quickly when a computer technician shares my screen online, instantaneously pinpointing and solving a problem I’m having. I love staying in touch with overseas friends in real time.
At the same time, these benefits come with side effects. Search online for a rug and for the next few days every time you visit a website a rug ad greets you. Go to a store’s website and get special offers from them over the next few days. You’ve surely had similar experiences. Our privacy is certainly being eroded We take it for granted that government agencies can spy on us anytime they wish and suspect that the law allows them to do so more easily than we would like.
Walt Disney most likely had no idea how much of a, “small, small world,’ we would occupy within decades of his theme park opening. Not only can we instantly be in touch around the globe but future generations will be able to access our lives in unprecedented ways
When we read correspondence between John and Abigail Adams or diary entries by those who lived through the Civil War, we gain not only historical information but human insights. Yet, these individuals or their children had the option of burning any documents that they did not want eyes other than their own to see.
Have you ever thrown away unflattering or embarrassing photos? I have. Digital photos don’t disappear as easily and certainly items posted impulsively or immaturely on social media cannot be eliminated when wiser sentiments prevail. Being able to get a fresh start in life is increasingly becoming harder. Atonement, meaning being able to wipe away a past we consider reprehensible and start again is a vital part of a Bible-based world view. It has saved many a life. Today’s techno-secular atmosphere makes this harder. We walk around like Pigpen in the Charlie Brown cartoons, the aura of dirt hanging over his head replaced by the detritus of our pasts hanging over ours.
There’s a bit of both creepy and cool, a Pandora’s box and a treasure chest in what man has created. Can we be trusted to use it wisely?
10 thoughts on “Creepy or Cool?”
The children of Israel were in slavery by the next generation, and yes, they accepted the initial steps voluntarily; the promises sounded good.
O.k. I really need to read this book again.
Here again I am reminded of how important- how vital- the Bible is to us. When did the Jews have the most trouble? When they accepted the gods of the societies around them. Also, as I understand it, after Joseph brought the Children of Israel to Egypt, they were in slavery within four hundred years. They had sold themselves into slavery, unless I am wrong. I worry we are doing the same by means of debt and lower standards in general. These are the very cracks in our armor that let in the weapons of adversaries; they are the bars with which we build ourselves into our prisons.
Peter, your mini-essay on Huxley and Orwell was spot on. I’ve had these same thoughts. I might add that were I to rule the world, I would use a mix of the two to make sure my bases were covered.
In the meantime, I will avoid as many of the ideals in these books as I can while trying to become more sensitive about the ones I have ignorantly accepted.
Whoa – a birthday card from my representative – no thanks.
Thanks for the reminder to re-read Huxley – and Postman.
In the context of your musing this week, you may find these pull quotes quite interesting:
“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”
“What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.”
— Neil Postman,
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
Like you, I find it as creepy as cool, sometimes still creepier. Just like fire, every event, every invention has potential, but its potential has two sides. In practical terms, such omniscient technology can be misused, will be misused, and is likely being misused in real time as we write here. Now that the FCC has elected to regulate the Internet, many are starry-eyed about ‘leveling playing fields’ and watching out for ‘the little guy.’ Right. On the sinister flip side, I fear that ‘watching the little guy’ and controlling what he learns online is now just as likely. Yes, we have long known that a major online search engine tailors the results of your searches to conform to your interests as demonstrated and defined by your own past searches. Three people can search for the same thing online and get vastly different results.
Every year, as my reward for being involved in ‘politics,’ I receive a birthday card from my elected representative. What a nice thought! Right. On the flip side, the message could become: ‘We know your name, we have your number and all your vital statistics, and we also know where you live.’ Tee hee hee.
Kristy, I stayed off Facebook until my friends started commenting on pictures of my grandchildren that I hadn’t seen. I need to go on for business as well and I do like seeing updates on people I care about but don’t personally stay in touch with. Also, some friends of mine post links to very interesting things (though others post items I can easily ignore). It is all such a mixed bag. Thanks for commenting.
Hi Susan! I agree with you! I love the convenience of banking online, watching Ancient Jewish Wisdom online, among others. However, I have had the pop ups after looking at items online too. How annoying! The thing I dislike the most is all the Social Media. I choose not to have Facebook, twitter, ect…,but that does not stop others (friends) from posting photos with me in them or writing about something I might have said. I only know of one time that this has happened and I asked my friend to respect my wishes. To my knowledge they complied. Your reference of Pig pen & Charlie Brown is sooo true! (P.S. Even this is out of my comfort zone, but I don’t have to sign up! Just comment as desired! Love y’all!)
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