“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 bumblepuppy. 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 hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.”
Excerpt from the book Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman.
Which vision sounds more like the West today? And then, let us consider the nonsense of the Twitter world. Deep, meaningful conversations have given way to narcissistic, empty triviality of 140 character messages sent back and forth with absolutely zero depth, other than someone pointing to an article that has some form of value or commentary on any given subject. Huxley’s vision is certainly more of the reality than we realize.
I experimented with Twitter for a while to see if it could be used for the glory of God and have noticed a couple of things. One is that if Twitter is used by Christian organizations to update followers on articles, media or other information, it can be a great tool. But, two, when individual Christians use it, it’s meaningless. I threw articles out there and occasionally commented on what I was doing. But I just get the feeling that my “followers” could care less about what’s going on during a day of work. “Updating configuration on web server.” “Setting up new web system environment for testing.” Yeah, intelligent, useful information, the moment by moment script of My life.
And then CNN using Twitter as a medium to interact with viewers? It’s just out of control. We think we have depth and communal interaction and contact in the use of such services and yet it seems to have just made us dumber because there’s no actual conversation and development of complex thoughts. Just a couple of sentences thrown out with the conviction that others actually care about what you’re eating. We believers especially need to recapture a truly Christian worldview, one rooted in the depth of Scripture, who God is and what He’s done in Christ to rescue us from wrath.
Then again, as one commenter on a blog entry criticizing Twitter said, “Bloggers making narcissism critiques of those who use twitter make me laugh.” And yet commenters commenting on bloggers criticizing the use of Twitter … well, you get the point.