Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Thrust Into The Matrix

As a boy and then as a young man, I was full of ideas and ideology. I knew what I knew, and I knew it was right. At least I was 99% sure of it, but there was always that 1% wiggle room that would cause me to consider (albeit briefly, depending on the strength of the argument) an alternative version of what I knew to be the truth. There was a time when I would listen and then decide the veracity of what I'd just heard, or read, as the case may have been.

As I got older, I held fast to those beliefs and subsequently bolstered them with what I was convinced was an inate ability to persuade others through pure reason. In other words, I felt that there were others who were much less anchored than I was in my core beliefs, perhaps through apathy, and if only I could use the right language and tone, they would have no choice but to see my side of an argument or maybe understand it. Prior to the internet age, it was a fairly successful endeavor. As Viki from I, Robot would say, my logic was infallible.

Now, as a post-quadrigenarian who has seen what instant information inflicts on the populace, I am more convinced than ever that we have been thrust into something resembling The Matrix, another imaginary conjuring of some author and a follow-up from Hollywood. We are all "experts" on everything now, and our alleged convictions are cemented in an equally alleged certainty that the sources we choose for our information are infallible. The result is that future debate is reduced to a primal contest over where we "learned" what we claim. Logic and reason become sad casualties in this war.

Forgive me for this self-indulgent lamentation, but I feel that I have been obsoleted. I feel that I am fighting a "war" with vastly out-classed weapons. Mine were effective once, but are no match for the new ones, which are much more efficient acumen-killing machines, but ones that require much less skill to accomplish the goal. More fire power, less thinking. "My source is better than your source". And so it goes, while ideas are more and more sequestered, with no chance for any modicum of reconciliation.

For the record, I know with 100% certainty that these words will be assailed by my detractors as a "shield from hard facts". They will have missed the entire truth of this exercise, predictably. They will shun me and plug back into the machine, as I sadly shake my head.


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