On the Digitalization of Man

Digitalization
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As we look around the world today, we see that we live in a time of extremely rapid change. What was on the horizon of the new last time we looked is now old and obsolete, needing replacement and updating. The more complex our technology gets, the more this change accelerates.  

Although there are other technological advances than I will mention here that have happened throughout history, the appearance of each of the changes can be connected to a time in the past. In the commoditization of man, major changes in society (aside from the rise and fall of empires) may have taken a millennium to fully mature. With the appearance of the mechanization of man, major changes in society often took centuries to fully mature. With the appearance of the metallization of man, this timeframe had accelerated to mere decades for changes to fully mature.  

Now, at the beginning of the digitalization of man, such major changes in society can come and pass within a year. We saw this most shockingly in 2020, during which not only were technologies we never imagined before suddenly appearing at an increasingly rapid pace, but society itself at the end of 2020 was almost unrecognizable from what it was at the start of 2020.

The societal changes got so rapid, and at times ridiculous, that some creators of satire have had issues creating new content, as the moment they come up with an idea that sounds ridiculous, it suddenly comes true, making them seem more like a prophet than a comedy writer or drawer. Who, at the start of 2020, would have thought that society would agree to shut itself down and hide in their homes for fear of a virus with a death rate equal to that of the flu? 

Who would have thought, at the start of 2020, that an apparently religious society that didn’t like the government telling it what to do would agree to the government forcibly closing most churches? Or that, even more shockingly, clergy would decide, generally, to close them even if the government didn’t tell them to? 

Who would have thought, at the beginning of 2020, that you would become a pariah in society for saying that there are only two sexes, or that one can’t change from one to the other? Who would have thought, at the beginning of 2020, that there would be riots by armed hooligans and insurrectionists in every major city in the country and one could become a pariah for saying those people should go to jail for their crimes? I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Not only have we seen a continuing acceleration of societal changes, to the point of a near shattering of society, but we have also seen the creation of entire false worlds of people trying to recreate reality in their own image. While it is one thing to see it in corporate media who push false narratives to the point of absurdity and beyond, and yet another to see social media and other internet tools using algorithms to silently bar and hide content they find objectionable to their objectives—manipulating people to act more in the way they want, and erasing electronically those who are too hard for them to control—it’s another thing entirely to create a far more literal false reality electronically.

Virtual reality technology has, in one form or another, existed for several decades now. Its early birth began with video games with stories attached to them, virtual reality glasses, and the internet coming later. As the internet grew, not only did online communities of people develop, but with people on the internet many times not knowing one another, one had a new opportunity to create a new them, making themselves appear to be far different people online than they were in person. This grew as online adventure games developed in which one literally could become a character in a game, no one necessarily knowing who or what you were outside of the game. An increasingly large number of people were getting lost in their online lives, losing touch at times with reality itself as they spent endless hours and days staring at a screen.  

As virtual reality technology has advanced, it has become possible to put on a headset and become immersed in your virtual world, only remembering the real world either when something in the real world told you to end the game for now, or when natural biological functions necessitated one’s return for various reasons.  

At times though, the loss of a grasp of reality has gotten extreme, with one man in Japan becoming known due to his “marriage” with a virtual reality character. The journalist doing the piece on him let us know that, before the man did that, he had issues relating to the opposite sex but he was “happy” now with this electronic “wife.” 

While people in general have become more docile in due to such changes, it has also made them easier to control. Not only can media sources to a disturbing degree hide reality from people, making them more agreeable to government control, but in a world in which it is known and generally accepted that other entities are constantly tracking people and gathering information on them, even when they don’t want them to, it’s much easier for the government itself to social engineer its populace to act in whatever ways it is seeking.

It seems extreme in China when we see a totalitarian government tracking most of their populace at all times via the GPS trackers in their phones and cameras on the streets, along with all their actions on the phone or via any electronic means. It seems extreme when, using that information, the Chinese authorities can limit where people go, what they can do, and what they can say, to the point of trying to rewrite Christianity to fit their wants, with little to no pushback from the populace. 

It seems extreme until we realize the framework, and the dispositions of the people to allow this, are already developing rapidly in the West. After all, Western technology brought about the technological revolution that allowed the Chinese to begin down this path, that path being accelerated ahead of us by the Communist government, who did not need societal agreement to allow them to do these things.  

In the West, in 2020 through now in 2022, we have seen a rapid deterioration of freedoms, the speed of which would have made even most dystopian authors of previous decades question the possibility of such a rapid timetable. Based both on fear of illness and a feeling that we were doing something good for society, we separated ourselves from one another, spending our free time sitting at home, many times alone, agreeing to only do what activities the authorities said we could and to only buy and sell what we were told we could while also only working when we were told we could.  

With us being at home, the “experts” of society then began to call anything that disagreed with the narrative they sought to push “fake news,” “pressuring” one another to stop the spread of that which they called false, no matter how true it was. They decided what truth was and attacked anyone who questioned it, no matter how false what they said was.  

When even that was not enough, the experts then chose to push a fragmenting of society through the use of “conflict theories.” They tried to hide the reality of these false philosophies being communist propaganda meant to break down a society. They also tried to pretend that science backed what they were saying. And they excommunicated from society anyone who questioned them. This included what during the Chinese Cultural Revolution was called a struggle session, in which those accused of some crime against society had to simply agree that they had committed whatever crime they were accused of, true or not, and beg forgiveness for it. 

In the U.S., this took the form of “antiracist training” that was forced on many, both in college and in the real world. Not only had many fled into whole virtual worlds, for many reasons choosing a false reality over the real thing, but now, for the sake of power, so were many real-world powers trying to impose a virtual reality of their own on us all. Meanwhile, online, the creation of virtual people and deep fakes has become so realistic that it can be at times impossible to tell who is real and who is an algorithm.  

It’s a brave new world out there right now, with all of these various attempts by people to recreate reality in their own image. Our challenge is to remain rooted in the Truth and try to show others the destructive path they are on before it’s too late.

[Image Credit: Unsplash]

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Christopher Lippold is a lifelong Catholic with a Masters Degree in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles in Cromwell, CT. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in Meteorology and a minor in Philosophy from Northern Illinois University.

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