Observation a day after the killing of British MP Jo Cox
Yesterdays’s murder of British Labour MP Jo Cox has left us just as devastated as the mass shooting in Orlando and the killing of Jean-Baptiste Savaing and Jessica Schneider in Magnanville, France. There can be no denying that our Western societies are being faced with a rising tide of highly aggressive pathological behavior and hate. And yet governments are hard pressed to find adequate answers to quell that phenomenon. Under these circumstances it doesn’t take much to imagine that Asian leaders in the tradition of Dr. Mahattir Mohamad, Lee Kwan Yew or Li Peng are now sitting in their offices thinking to themselves that recent events in Orlando and elsewhere only confirm their long-held believe according to which Western values of freedom, democracy and equality ultimately won’t do the trick.
Nevertheless the final bell on Western values hasn’t tolled yet. So there is still room for Western society to adapt and reinvent itself in order to successfully address the challenges which a disintegrating digital society imposes on us. And obviously, that reinvention needs to start from a correct analysis of the true causes that lie behind the rising tide of pathologic aberrations.
Now, some people may be inclined to view massive immigration as one of the leading causes for the growing violence in our Western societies. The simple fact though that mind-boggling violence spans the entire social spectrum from middle-class hooligans, to shit-storm generating millennials to right-wing terrorists and ISIS suicide bombers suggest that migration may not be at the heart of the matter here.
In our humble view, it is the consequences of digital telecommunication that need to feature prominently in the diagnostic analysis of the causes for social disintegration. Questions like the following need to be answered and answered honestly:
Is it true that increased telecommunication reduces the need for physical activity which in turn decreases the likelihood of the production of endorphins in the human brain? Is it true that the physical distancing that comes with telecommunication reduces the interpersonal commitment that telecommunication participants may feel towards each other? Is it true that the physical distancing which telecommunication allows decreases participants’ ability to bear and countenance unsatisfying and frustrating social interaction and entertainment? Is it true that subject physical distancing all too often deprives telecommunication participants off the ability to juxtapose words with the corresponding body language? Is it true that the fast-pace nature of digital communication is a detriment to the training and maintaining of mental focus? Do all of the aforementioned elements indeed lead to loss of balance and empathy in social interaction? And does the latter truly explain why more people tend to go postal these days?
If the answer to questions like those raised above is indeed in the affirmative then it would probably make sense to hold a national referendum not on Brexit, gay marriage or other largely secondary issues but on the proposal whether certain aspects of telecommunication should simply be banned since they are deemed to be too detrimental to social cohesion.
Now, Noah denkt™ is quite aware of the fact that technological progress is here to stay and that it has just as many welcome as unwelcome side effects. This project, after all, would not exist if it weren’t for digital communication. So, our own position in this is largely ambivalent. And yet, we must address our challenges with reason and open eyes. That is the bases which created the industrial revolution in the first place. And that is how we should take it into the future.