Stumbling Toward The Abyss
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley
There is a very funny episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Leonard takes Penny to the gun range. Penny questions if Leonard knows what he is doing with a gun and Leonard replies that he has played enough video games he should know how to handle a gun. Leonard then promptly shoots himself in the foot.
I think the online world is probably having an effect on our culture, as represented by the “Big Bang” episode. One of the characteristics of the online world is for one to experience a virtual simulation of something while disregarding all of the inconvenient facts that would discourage or control that activity in real life. For example no matter how many video games Leonard had played he had no idea how to safely handle a firearm. That is an irrelevancy in the online world.
Playing a soldier in an online game does not make you a soldier no matter how many thousands of hours you played that game. You never put eighty pounds on your back, humped it ten miles and then fought a physical battle with actual life or death consequences. There is a difference in these two things.
The online world allows one to create or be something that is a fantasy. I do not think that is inherently bad or unhealthy. What does seem to be bad and unhealthy is that we collectively seem to be losing a certain ability to understand the relevancy of information when it conflicts with what we wish to be true.
As a society we seem to be blurring the lines between what we wish was true and what is actually true.
We seem to be reaching a critical mass in our ability to ignore facts which conflict with and preclude what we wish to be true. This is having a detrimental effect on our collective quality of life. One can see this online; arguments that are easily and unimpeachably refuted are presented all day long as ‘facts’.
One of the most common of these ‘facts’ is that socialism represents equality and that government is required to make things ‘fair’. There is zero data, history, or examples of that being so. When challenged to produce an example of this the purveyor of this ‘fact’ inevitably resorts to something along the lines of “In my personal view…” which is identical to saying “In my personal fantasy…”
I am not a Randian but I do think Ayn Rand was a brilliant novelist who said things worth hearing. One of the most profound things I think she said was “He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see.”
We are collectively stumbling blindly into an abyss. Refusing to see it does not mean it is not there and does not mean that when we fall into it that you will not be injured. I am highly confident that if we stumble into the abyss quite a few people will not possess the skills to get out.