Last night, my brain was in one of its multiple core processor modes.
As I was actually enjoying the new TV programs on NBC (Chicago Med, Fire and P.D. – Hank Voight is my spirit animal) one of the secondary processors was chewing on the principles embodied in the Constitution of the United States, primarily those ensconced in the Bill of Rights, recognizing their primary function is to protect the rights of the individuals from government intervention, of course, but thinking a bit deeper, I saw two other significant features of our foundational systems.
First, these principles promote interaction with each other on a personal level by ensuring each person’s inalienable rights are their own indisputable and unassailable personal property and secondly, they establish a legal, societal and cultural framework that serves to protect our individual actions from those who would do violence or harm (either in person or through the use of the state) simply because they disagree.
It seems to me there is a correlation between the increases in personal isolationism that our modern “conveniences” (our Internet enabled virtual existences) have brought about and the anger, frustration and general decrease of liberty we are experiencing. America’s system is not designed to work if we cannot speak to each other openly and frankly and count on that capability being protected. If we lose those protections, we lose trust and America cannot survive if we lose trust in the institutions that were created to protect the basic guarantees of liberty as defined in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
I fear no contradiction when I note that something that was heralded as the greatest opportunity in history for access to knowledge, the sharing of opinions and connections for the unconnected, the Internet, is turning out to be exactly the opposite. Right now, the web oligarchs are deciding what you will know, what opinions you will see and hear (or not see and hear) and with whom you are allowed to associate in the digital world they control.
It could be argued, and I believe successfully so, that rather than creating more freedom and independence, the Internet has enabled more oppression and dependence.
It is why we cannot hold rational debates. Hell, it is why people can no longer communicate on a personal level. It is why we are losing our common understanding about…well, about everything. At some point, America became a nation of Hot Pocket chomping, crumb covered, keyboard warrior trolls.
As the commercial says, “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.”
There certainly seems to be an inverse relationship at work – the more we slip into the virtual world, the less we understand the true value of our liberty, how we got it, and the duties necessary to protect it for the benefit of all.