I think I have some serious cyberspace stalking skills. Legal stalking I should add.
So here are two observations I have made.
1. People are very open with their struggles. Personally, I regard this phenomenon as an expression of people’s deep desires for true companionship. We have an urge to share our lives with someone. Though people are generally competitive, selfish and proud, at the end of the day, we all desire to belong to a community who accepts us in all our weakness. Today however, this communal sense of belonging has descended into superficiality. People tend to have many friends they can party with, but few they can share their deepest woes with. And so they turn to the blogosphere. It’s the equivalent of standing on a cliff, or a beach, and releasing all your frustration. Perhaps better still, it’s a place where you can let everything go, without the physical appearance of weakness. This is why you often see a different person in cyberspace and in real life. People foolishly cling to their pride even when they are in desperate need of help.
It’s a world in pain looking for comfort. But not willing to admit it.
2. People are less inhibited by moral constraints. They are more willing to speak ill of another. They are more willing to address immoral issues. Sometimes it even comes across as some sort of perverse competition to see who is the more depraved individual. I think this goes to show that even in such an immoral world, society does exhibit a certain kind of moral control. There are social norms which people are meant to adhere to. There are taboo subjects that should never be raised in the public consciousness. However I think that as the boundary between webspace and real life blurs, these social norms and taboos seem to be conforming more to the webspace norms and taboos.
I think a clear example would be how the increased use of internet pornography is a leading influence in the sexualisation of worldly culture. Men who might be judged for going to a strip club satisfy their sexual fantasies with internet pornography. Having saturated their minds with such sexuality, they are less sensitive to the sexualisation they see around them in real life. And so increasingly strip clubs have become accepted establishments. Another example would be the desensitivising of violence. While it’s taboo to kill in real life, it’s alright in the virtual world. But once the mind becomes saturated with virtual violence, it is no longer perceptive to real world violence. In this way, the lack of moral inhibition is spilling over to real life.
We should really pray for the grace of God to restrain the moral depravity of our hearts.
Mankind has come a long way since the beginning of creation. We have learnt to harness the power of the atom, create supercomputers that process information faster than our brains, and master flight, among some examples. Yet we are no different than we have been since the fall. If the internet is a fair measure of man’s heart, it appears we are as morally depraved, if not worse. Our hearts cry for help, for relief, yet we are still content to proudly suppress this ‘weakness’. We know there is something wrong, but we continue to adopt the mentality that if we can just pull the wool over our eyes long enough and rush headlong through the terrors of this life on an apsirin or two, perhaps we will get to the point where we don’t even need to worry about our nagging disillusionment.
God knows that won’t work.