Mark Zuckerberg and his nerdy cohorts have a dream to turn the internet into a global village that will spread ideas and possibly democratic seeds to all parts of the world. (“Connection can breed contempt,” by Jamelle Boule, excerpted from Slate in The Week, May 5, 2017, pg. 16.) But instead of finding peace, love and a coke, we’re learning the internet is not only a place where crooks hang out but other despicable characters as well.
In addition, “Social research has found abundant evidence that the more contact we have with other people, the more we become irritated by their divergent ideas, preferences and habits.” (Ibid pg. 16.) Of course, we don’t need science to tell us that. Aesop explained familiarity breeds contempt centuries ago. (“The Fox and the Lion.” (Click)
What nerds have accomplished with their “digital” crowding is to threaten people’s cultural identity. That makes them cranky. I love the work of actor Richard Gere, for example. But he makes fewer and fewer films because China has blacklisted him for his support for Tibetan independence. China, Hollywood’s hottest growth market, becomes our master. For sure, that makes me cranky. (“News”, The Week, May 5, 2017, pg. 12.)
What Zuckerberg and others techies forget is hate thrives as easily as love in internet soil. And love isn’t winning. The Anti-Defamation League reports in the last 5 months, anti-Semitic activities have increased by a whopping 86% (“Noted,” The Week, May 5, 2017, pg. 20) One hateful man murdered his victim live on social media.
Scientists strive to understand the human brain, but, as yet, we don’t know much about ourselves. Worse, we don’t know what all this technology is doing to us. I’m stunned that after the first 100 days of our amoral president’s performance in office, a large segment of the population continues to believe he’s making America great again. Knowing a large clot of people applaud his erratic behavior, even as he deploys our military as if it were his collection of toy soldiers, even as he ignores Congress and acts upon his personal whim, I am convinced I don’t want this world to shrink any further. Trump needs to be contained. He is our contamination.
Unfortunately, technology turns a tin ear to the growing danger. The nexus of profit, competition and speed of execution drives this industry, not a coherent moral code. The next platform Zuckerberg and his ilk are planning is “augmented reality.” I’m not certain what that means. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it meant an up close and three-dimensional view of the next murder.