CommunityNewsPeopleRon Baker

Online Progresses Backwards

By Ron Baker

We have all experienced the last few years as streaming years. Old and young alike are familiar with – if not comfortable with – online meetings, links, and Zoom gatherings. When lockdowns slowed our person-to-person interactions (and sometimes eliminated them) we were able to adjust to face-to-face virtual interactions.

I must admit, some of this has been fun. I have spoken to more people than I would usually. I have been enriched by these contacts. At the same time, overexposure to others through virtual means has desensitized me. I don’t feel the need to get together in person. The hermit in me has arisen

I am not a prophet but let me venture into their territory. However these last few years play out, the very real tension between lively touch and mere sight will affect the next generation.

So what comes next? I want my senses – my touch, smell, sight, taste, hearing – to be a part of my life. Real senses, not just “senses” transmitted over the lines and online.

I’ve zoned out on video and audio presentations this past while. I want to really know others and be known by others. Go back a century and the newly emerging telephone and telegraph presented the same look to a new generation. That generation was now able to have simultaneous interaction. What a joy and at the same time, a distraction.

As the long term played out for that generation, long distance carriers soon took advantage and leveraged money from these transactions. Thus, the carriers were regulated. Meanwhile, some people became satisfied with the friendship of non-contact. They loved to feel another’s pain, experience their joys and live their lives – in short controlled snippets. They could hang up the phone or stop telegraphing on a whim.

This long distance interaction was unlike the living room chat where you feel compelled to remain civil and continue the conversation until it is resolved. You can easily push someone out of your life if closeness is lessened. When you live next door or constantly encounter them in person, you have to push harder to get them out of your life.

Will a new generation’s virtual reality see flesh and blood interaction as important? Can we live substantially in a non-material world? My senses tell me “NO!”. My imagination wonders if science fiction can become true.

Let’s progress backwards into previous generations. What have we learned?

A philosopher once said – Cogito ergo sum – “I think therefore I am”. But, I wonder if there isn’t more than just the idea, the thinking, the essence that creates reality. Another philosophy stresses current existence as the verification of reality. Is that enough?

I wonder if we need to add a third dimension to our approach to reality – the eternal spiritual world. We cannot dismiss the reality of thought, or the reality of existence – both need to be present as we approach the reality of the future. But I wonder if we have forgotten the reality of the spiritual world? Our lives can be two dimensional, but I’m convinced there is a more abundant life found in three dimensional living.

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