Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beware the Oracles of Doom: Internet and Narcissism, Nothing New

I have basically lost track of how many studies tell us that our children are going to hell in a hand basket because they spend so much time on the Internet. These studies tell us that our offspring have no social skills, that they cannot think, reason and expand upon ideas all on their own. That twitter, Facebook, instagram is all about being stars in our own reality TV show. That what this younger generation needs is instant gratification in their existence. When they don't get that reaction in the real world  clinical depression and a level of dangerous nonfunctionality ensues.

To that I say, bullshit. I wonder, did it ever occur to those doing the study that THEY are the problem and not the Internet or our children? Listen with each new leap in technology there are bound to be societal problems. Technology creates a new way of thinking about the world around you. Those who cannot keep up are left behind. The truth is the Internet opens up the entire world to those who live in non-tyrannical nations. Information abounds. Don't tell me that young people do not know how to assimilate and understand all the information at their fingertips. It's the only way they know how to survive and function on a daily basis.

To also say that somehow there never were predators, racists, antisemites, and any manner of perversion known to man, before the Internet, is ridiculous. To say that the Internet makes evil things easier to find, I would say, "Yes." But it also makes the good easier to find and provides the ability to defend against degradation for some of the most misbegotten societies of the world by offering a huge lifeline. It makes access to goods and services easier to locate and provides so many, especially in the special needs community, a tool of interaction and communication that never existed before. It brings so many out of their isolation and allows for some modicum of normalcy in their lives.

Yet it is not even the idea that information accessibility is the issue. The powers that be deride social media platforms as the tool in making our lives into a dramatic show. Everyone gets to be their own Kardashian-like reality show. Did it ever occur to these braintrusts that dramatic shows are the norm in human relations? People had drama in their lives from time immemorial.

Peyton Place is not a modern book, but a look at the American suburbs of the post WW2 era. Jane Austen writes about the machinations and rules under which people lived during the Napoleonic Era. Defoe writes about the trials and tribulations of Moll Flanders. Before these authors those who looked and commented on the human condition of self-promotion and human excess was Shakespeare, Chaucer and oh, yes, that little text called the Bible. Needless to say anyone could also look at the ancient Greeks and Romans for their plays concerning inter-family squabbles, human frailty and narcissistic self-importance. Go HERE for a full list of the commentors and social critics from back in the day of togas and the ancient Olympics.

I wonder what the issue is with those that decry the Internet and its social media use? Is it that the average person no longer has to feel average? That the average person is allowed to have media attention for any number of reasons and that we as a culture do not have to see the celebrity/political pundits as the only avenue of recognition? Is it that we are no longer a nation of followers, or serfs, who blindly follow a leader, or that there are those in this world who research, seek out and cut through all the crap that someone is telling us? Is this the reason that so many who seem to be loosing power, even here in the US, want to curtail the Internet and pull back on its access? Is this the real reason for the assault on Net Neutrality? Is this the real thinking behind the recent push to curtail political speech in this country?

First, they tell you that the technology is invading the family.
Second, they tell you that your child will not function in the real world.
Third, they tell you that the Internet has more sway over your child than you do.
Fourth, they tell you that the information you child puts out into the real world will harm them for the rest of their lives.
Fifth, they tell you as a good parent you need to stem the flow of information.
Sixth, they propose a bill to save the family and restore balance to the world.
Seventh, the bill passes and access to the Internet is denied or only permitted at government largess.
Eighth, the public is supposed to be ever grateful that the pundits have curtailed our freedoms in the guise of protecting us.

The powers that be couch their assault on free access to the Internet in terms of solidarity, family, health and the future of mankind. But in reality it is only a vehicle for tyranny and oppression. It is the ultimate narcissism of politicians, social engineers and Statists that will destroy our world. Ultimately it has nothing to do with the ability of the individual to freely be the center of their own life story. It has to do with control of our society by those who decide that they know better than the average person how to run everyone's life.