"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster


"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tail Wags Dog

Couldn't really come up with the cleverest title for this post, but I might write about it again sometime.

There is an ongoing lecture series called TED and I stumbled upon it in a couple of other blogs.  The one I saw today, over at Theo Spark, hits on something that Twyla and I discuss occasionally.  Our relationship to the internet.

The young lady in the video says she studies something called cyborg anthropology.  She has some good insights and observations about this phenomenon.  Mainly, that there is a lot less personal introspection going on now. However, I don't agree with her conclusions because, as is typical, she comes from a humanist, materialistic perspective that isn't going to end well.  I know that it is an irony of ironies that I sit here typing about this problem on a blog, knowing full well that I'm publishing to the world wide web.  Trying to spread my opinion about something because I think it's important.

Obviously, I like the internet. It's like having far more than all the world's libraries at your fingertips.  It is a tool.  It can be incredibly useful, or it can be badly abused.  I have to wade or slog through a lot of garbage some days to find information that is worthy or useful, because most of what fills the web is just crap.  It's hardly any different than television in that regard.  I haven't seen any regular TV, broadcast or cable since early 2007, and I really don't miss it.  There are only so many hours in a day, and there just isn't much of anything I can see in what is supposed to pass for entertainment that is worth watching there.  Sure, we have Netflix, but we watch it when it doesn't interfere with whatever else is more important.  But we also find ourselves hitting the delete button a lot sooner and more often than we might have years ago.

The great advantage of the web is that I can scan through the crap a lot faster to get to the good stuff. There is some really excellent stuff if you know what to look for.  Just as a library is totally useless to someone who's never been taught to read, the internet is just a wasteland to someone who has never been taught how to think critically.  If you don't understand epistemology, you can fill your head with all kinds of junk that can cause more harm than good. For instance: I didn't fall for the global warming hoax as it was getting started years ago, because I had a solid understanding about physics and the scientific method, and I asked meteorologists who actually studied climate and weather what they thought, rather than asking sociologists or economists what they thought about climate.

I will admit that part of why I think the way I think could be attributed to my age and the technology I grew up without.  But because I do spend a lot more time thinking, I don't think so.  The reason I say that is because I observe people.  There are many clich├ęs or sayings.  Some are almost always true, but some are just generalizations that have to be taken in context.  For a couple of generations at least, there has been a war on wisdom.  You can no longer say that if someone has lived to be seventy or eighty or older that they must be wise.  I know and have known some very wise old people, but I've met and talked to some old folks that stunned me with their willful ignorance, which I call real stupidity.  And now that I think about it, I might have said the same thing had I lived a couple of hundred years ago.  I just know that back before people bought into the idea of trading their freedom for nanny state government, it would make sense that if you didn't make wise decisions every day, you weren't likely to live long.  Yep, we creationists understand and agree with the concept of natural selection, in spite of what you may have heard from evolutionists.

We do find some great nuggets of gold in the internet from time to time.  Twyla and I spent three hours this past Shabbat watching Walid Shoebat teaching at a prophecy conference somewhere.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Here was a former Arab muslim terrorist, turned Christian, who was explaining the prophetic passages regarding eschatology because he had the right background knowledge.  Of course he is fluent in Arabic, and because he grew up in Bethlehem, he knows Hebrew.  More importantly, he knows and understand not only the geography and the ancient names of the places in Scripture, he understands the Eastern mindset and culture of the Bible.  In three hours, we had many misconceptions corrected, and gained tremendous new insights we couldn't have gotten any other way.  And that was just scratching the surface.  Yes, I like the benefits of the internet.  But I've got a little farm to run.  There are never enough hours in the day.  There is always wood to gather and cut, composting to do, soil preparation, planting and nurturing seeds, and much more. I'm actually glad that it's hard to impossible to get a cell phone signal up here in the mountains. Our lifestyle is such that we have plenty of opportunity to think and think deeply about everything.

Some of the worst effects that I see in this technological age are counter intuitive.  I've seen people glued to their cell phones.  You've seen them.  They need a couple of extra batteries on standby.  There may be some examples of businesspeople who really do need that kind of constant communication, but they tend to keep it brief and to the point.  You can tell by overhearing them that they see it as a necessary evil.  But we've all been somewhere in public where we had to listen to some idiot talking loud enough  to be heard across a football field about the most inane things. Then texting came out, and teenagers turned it into an olympic sport.  Don't get me started on the idiot parents who let their non-income producing progeny run up hundreds of dollars of cell phone bills.

You would think with all of this "connectedness" that people would be, well, connected.  Just the opposite.  This kind of stuff is what has led to a lack of intimacy.  Some people have 500 names in their cell phone or PDA/cell phone combo, but they don't have one really good, intimate friend.  And the people you meet through the internet?  They are just virtual people.  You might have found their pattern of electrons interesting for a while and thought you had enough things in common with them to be good friends, but the minute they express enough opinions you don't like or start harshing your mellow, you can just cut them off with the click of a mouse.  But even if you don't delete them from your list, they can just get lost in the sea of contacts.

Because something inside us longs for real connection to other people, we keep the communication at a place where we won't offend anybody, even when we never intended to be offensive.  The problem is, nobody really gets to know anybody else.  Somehow the whole backwards, upside-down concept of self-esteem has created a whole class of people who think they have a right to never be offended, or have their beliefs challenged.  Modern technology makes it way to easy to abandon conversation.

Do I cut people off?  You betcha.  Look at some of my past posts.  Once I discover someone has Peterson Syndrome, my interaction with them is likely to end quite soon.  And there are plenty of people that you run across on the web that you know pretty quickly are not going to be worth attempting to engage.  Not because I don't think the person is worth my time or effort, but because the moment they are offended by my challenge, they will cut me off, dismissing me as an idiot.  It doesn't keep me from trying occasionally.

I will readily admit that I'm in a very small minority.  As you can tell from my previous posts on Knowing God, I'm a total believer in the Bible.  I actually love the moniker, "People of the Book," which the Muslims use to describe Christians and Jews, but not for the reasons they do.  I like the phrase because the vast majority of Christians and Jews are NOT people of the Book in the sense that they really don't believe that it is the inspired Word of God.  Such a phrase separates the wheat from the chaff.

Even if I wasn't a Bible believer, I can look around and see the writing on the wall.  The technological bubble that 90% of us live in or have access to is about to burst. Our debt is way past sustainable. Cities and States are about to declare their bankruptcy.  It won't matter how good the technology is, because hardly anyone will be able to afford it, even if the price is cut in half, or down to a quarter.  I'm reading now where gasoline could be over $5 a gallon in the next twelve months.  The Feds have stopped all offshore drilling and even shut down one of the largest coal mines and we produce about 50% of our electricity with coal.  We haven't built a nuclear reactor in over 30 years.  Every sane and logical economic analyst that I can read is pointing to a coming catastrophe that will make the "Great Depression" of the 1930s look like a minor setback.

We are about to experience being forced back to a lifestyle of dealing with people face to face as neighbors, that is, if we can survive through the riots and other societal breakdown. We will go from cyborgs to savages and the lucky and prepared might get to live to tell about it.

I don't expect to have an easy time of it at all.  But I can look forward to a complete collapse because I also expect to see some additional signs that God has had enough of all this as well, and that He's coming back.  If I see a third Temple being built in Jerusalem, I will be full of hope, because that means it won't be long.  There can also be much blessing in the hard times, because a lot of people who had previously been oblivious to the signs and the message, will start taking it seriously.  Hunger and difficulty has an amazing way of focusing your attention.

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