Engaging Culture

The Race to 666, and What We’ve Given Up

The company OnStar – the GM satellite navigational system that can unlock your car for you, or help you in the case of an accident, has also announced a new technology to slow down or stop your car, or cut off the engine in case the police are chasing you. As I was listening to the news report, I was thinking that we now have technology that:

1) Allows the government to know your cell phone calls and who you made them to.
2) Know where you were standing when you made those calls.
3) Track your internet usage, including sites you’ve visited and products you’ve purchased.
4) Your Internet preferences and behavior.
5) Track your purchases and locations through credit cards.
6) Track our credit history, list our firearms purchases, and know our medical history.
7) Search sites like Google know what you’re searching for and keep those records for a period of time.
8) Satellites that can read a license place from miles in space.
9) Closer to home, we now have video cameras installed throughout cities, in stores and ATM’s, and along streets and highways.
10) And now, they can shut down our car via satellite if they’re chasing us.

And here’s the thing: we WANT this.  We WANT to have the convenience of debit cards, cell phones, online cookies, and navigational systems. We’ve gladly laid down our private space – not for our security, but for our convenience. It makes me think of the competing visions of the future from Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) and George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm).

Media theorist and writer Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death) has a pretty brilliant comparison of the two visions:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with feelings instead of facts. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions. In 1984, Huxley added, that people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. We must face the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

I’m not a conspiracy theorist or apocalyptic type, but suddenly I’ve started looking over my shoulder…


  1. Yes, convenience is the magic word… and the scary word that will bring consequence. We are a distracted people (often through media), while so many things happen behind our backs and under our noses. As exciting as this technology is, which you list above, it should cause caution for the very reasons you state. Just because we can doesn’t always mean we should. Pets can already be implanted with a chip so they can be found if they are lost. How long before the implants are upgraded for people… so a missing person can be found; for medical info; for bank/debit info… all for convenience? As wonderfully futuristic and amazing as it sounds… what will we lose then?

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers

    1. It is already being used on people, it was in the news a few years ago of the convenience for people that have Alzheimer.

  2. What alarms me about the liberties that our President is taking (i.e. phone-tapping) is that he could be opening a door to greater dangers down the road. They're not looking toward the future possibility of a corrupt leader who could seriously abuse our new Homeland Security options.

  3. Outside of God and His eternal love, everything will become a master over men (or rather we become volunteer slaves to it). And when men seek to dominate/control other men they only show themselves to be the devil they are without God in their life. What I can’t understand is why anyone would want to be the richest person alive on a drowning ship?

    Go down if you want to go up; Die if you want to live; Be tough on life before it’s tough on you; Prepare to suffer; Make pleasure a transition not an address; Complacency is a convenient killer; Truth is a bitter pill that leaves a sweet aftertaste.

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