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change? what change?
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by robert castleman

The idea that electronics has somehow changed society is both clearly evident and patently ludicrous. You must love a paradox to even begin to accept this statement, but if two such diametrically opposed ideas can reside in your mind at once, you will agree with my argument.

The absurdity of the notion is glaringly clear. Reach back into your mind and search through your knowledge of history. Pick a time when there wasn’t human brutality, selfishness, and blind ambition. Or sacrifice, courage and love. These are the things that have defined our race, a paradox of even greater magnitude than that which the electronic age now thrusts upon us. No new technology, no matter how wondrous, can possibly alter the essential nature of humanity. The onus of that transformation rests on our will to change.

But the electronic age has done a remarkable thing. In a single generation it has thrown open the doors to the collective consciousness of a simultaneously violent and beautiful people. In easy reach from any web browser are the musings and images of everything from hate groups to holistic healing, from free information to blatant and aggressive marketing, from the artwork of children to the stories of serial killers. At no time in history has the fundamental nature of what we are been so clearly and completely exposed. But throwing open the doors to our nature so that we can see ourselves clearly is not enough to make claims as the progenitor of social change. It is still up to us to step through those doors, look carefully at what we are, and chose to become something more.

What the information age really offers us is a tool. It creates possibilities never before imagined. It offers a pathway for discourse on a future that relentlessly demands fundamental change in the way we live and the way we treat each other. We can no longer plead ignorance for what we are capable of. Atrocities against our own are instantly known around the world. Courage beyond our imaginations is found everywhere. Simply point and click. You will find it.

What we must avoid is letting the human capacity for turning a blind eye to our weaknesses become a part of our revolution. Online communities can just as easily become as divisive and destructive as the real walls that bar us from a just and civilized world. When we erect the boundaries to fundamental change within our electronic universe, then we have lost. Computers, digital information, the Internet and all its power to transform will have been squandered. Then the claim that the electronic age has changed our society will indeed be patently false. We will have become nothing new. We will only be the same paradoxical race with really fancy toys.

Copyright © 2000 Robert Castleman All Rights Reserved

Robert Castleman is an IT Professional, Poet, author, father and husband.

 

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