It has been the illusion, even delusion, fostered by the media, and the manufacturers of technology that we are unified by it: that there is solidarity in it.
At one time, television, when we were all watching the same program at the same time—I remember this time, even if most of my readers don't—the effect was to create a common consciousness. There were innocuous results—the hula hoop, the yoyo—more interesting ones—Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly—and possibly more evil ones—creation of the mass market, and the mass market consciousness, and its manipulation. Though even here, there is still the potential for great, positive change—I am still naive enough to believe this.
We are told we have all the choice in the world—maybe we do, I leave that to the more net-savvy among my readers—but if that is true, where is the common foundation for a common understanding? Where is the footing for common action?
We bemoan the loss of civil society, and we raise the image of the armed individual as the pinnacle of what we need to restore the golden age of our community. If there is no such thing as society, how can any village be anything more than a convenient fiction, a metaphor for nothing?
Now, more than at any other time in history, our entire lives are mediated by technology, as our civil institutions crumble around us—and, in all innocence, we wonder why. We do not look at the very thing in front of us, rather we request, nay, panicky demand more, unable to fathom a connection.
William Gibson, in Neuromancer, in describing the net, has said
There is no there there.