Reactionary Post #376, or "Fool of a Took! Throw Yourself in Next Time and Rid Us of Your Stupidity!"

The internet, as Carl Trueman noted fairly recently, is bandit country. It’s a wild and lawless place where anyone can get away with virtually anything and all without getting their hands dirty. The internet is the haven of cowards who can summon wagonloads of bluster and bravado on a message board or in the comments section of any given page, but in all likelihood are spineless provocateurs who could not look you in the eye in a verbal exchange here in the real world. Only when the impenetrable armor of online anonymity is donned are these craven sons of Belial prepared to hurl cheap cracks and idiotic insults at their opponents. They are able to do this because the internet is a medium which demands no integrity nor even ability to exploit. The internet is a fitting home to the likes of nobodies such as the 15th Century sailor who hears the report of Columbus’ discovery and retorts, “Anyone can find North America- just sail west.” Or the hack who hears a Chuck Berry guitar solo in 1958 and boasts, “Anyone can do that- it’s just an E pentatonic scale and some overdrive.” (insert huff of braggadocio here)

If “anyone” can accomplish those things, then why didn’t you do it? Why is it that you haven’t accomplished anything significant? Why are you bemoaning the world’s lack of appreciation for your copious talents and your paradigm-toppling, revolutionary proposals? Because you have none. And that’s why your worthless opinings find a home on the internet. That’s why you slink in the shadows of forums for fear of the scrutiny of critics you can put a face to and hear speaking as they respond to your garbage.

The internet is the enemy of disciplined, reasoned thought and discourse. The internet sets no bar, has no criteria to be satisfied to allow a person to utilize its facilities. No sign at the entrance saying, “You must be this tall to ride.” No quality control maintaining rigorous standards for contributions being offered. You just sign on- therein is the sole condition for usage. The internet is as unencumbered as so much of our speech is and that’s why pirates thrive in its murky depths; the internet’s complete and utter lack of entry level requisites ensures the reign of qwerty terrorists as barbarian overlords of the anarchic wasteland they find ripe for the picking.

And ill-informed arguments posted in an instantaneous fit of blind passion as a response to other ill-informed arguments hardly help the cause- it really only digs the hole deeper and plunges us a little further down into the dark. Any defensive retort is usually 66% hurt feelings, 30% wounded pride, and 4% reasoned out argument*. Don’t give buffoons the benefit of a soapbox by responding. Buffoonery is eradicated by severing the root- the humiliation both of contempt and of being ignored. Buffoonery does not recognize the legitimacy of strategic withdrawal- it only responds all the fiercer to those that respond in kind. Beat their swords into plowshares and unravel the very arena of their combat by refusing to give buffoons the time of day. They are not worthy of even a second’s time. Shake the digital dust from your web-surfing sandals and invoke your anathema by refusing to recognize their right to communicate. Dialogue is not being sought here- only wounds. When their insignificant provocations fail to elicit the responses they desired, these weeds will wither and die in the obscurity and shame of their laptop-lit bedroom fortresses.

If tomorrow six billion people woke up (not at the same time, obviously- I am aware that time zones exist) and reconsidered the importance and impact of the internet upon their lives and said, “Eh… I can live without it,” I would click my heels in a giddy fit of joy. Not only because implicit within this arrangement is the fact that Facebook would go down in flames (as it should) but because most of the world’s population would be ridding themselves of a carcinogenic parasite that poses itself as an angel of light. There’s literally nothing worth having on the internet you cannot obtain through another, better medium. Convenience does not equal worthiness- quite the opposite is so, I would argue strongly. So what if six million books are available online in .pdf form? The attention span the internet facilitates and nurtures guarantees that I won’t finish one of them before I abandon my reading and endeavor to look at something that is a waste of time. The internet does not foster the virtue of deferred gratification. Impulse is the normative principle here in the sinkholes of the world wide web.

What a cheery post!

Now, after wading through the grime of all these negative assertions, here’s the manifesto expressed positively:
Do real things with real people.
Read real books.
Talk face to face.
Write letters that take a few days to get somewhere.
Call people. And take the time to frame and formulate what you’re going to say before you say it.
Grow in patience.
Embrace the truth that anything worth having is worth waiting for.

None of these things are being typed by one who has arrived. Truth be told, I am one of the most impatient people I know. And obviously there’s the fact that I’m posting something on the internet about the lousiness of the internet. The irony is not lost on me, I assure you**. And I text message like a Viking berserker marauds coastal settlements! I appeal to you brethren because all of these things ought not so to be, in my own case most of all because I am the one making the appeal. Would that we put no stock in the flurries of binary soaring around us every second, tempting us with instant fulfillment of our appetites and strapping us with vanity’s dead weight! Would instead that we grow in wisdom and humility with the means that guarantee accountability and restraint, the means that connect us vitally with those who have preceded us, the means that bridge our own experience in our time to the rich history that encompasses the majority of human experience, the universal story so similar to our own in all but the least pertinent of details. May we all awaken from the stupor of technological progress and its resulting discontent and by the grace of the triune God recapture the joy of living and worshiping within the unfolding drama of redemption by taking hold of reality and the significant once more!

*These numbers aren’t hyperbole! This is a serious diatribe here- of course I would only cite concrete, objective data…
**But riddle me this: why would I fly to Zurich if I wanted to address the people of Mombasa?

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