rebelling against low expectations

Nation Wide Wi-Fi and Where It Will Take Us


As an encouragement to our new readers to take advantage of our “Popular Independent Posts” section, located on our sidebar, we re-post the following October 6th article:

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who became internationally known for his campaign a year ago to legalise gay marriage, said on Monday he considered wireless Internet access a fundamental right of all citizens.

“It is to me a fundamental right to have access universally to information,” Newsom told a news conference at San Francisco’s City Hall, “this is a civil rights issue as much as anything else.”

Though Newsom stresses that this is nothing more than his personal opinion, (i.e. “It is to me a fundamental right…”) he continues his history of imposing personal views on others and plucking previously non-existent civil rights out of the air.

Nevertheless, this post is not a critique of Mayor Newsom or his history. Neither is it an evaluation of Wi-Fi as a civil right. Rather, I intend to convey two concerns I have regarding constant access to the Internet: intellectual isolation and societal stupidification.

Social isolation is universally recognized as a symptom of technology. Yet intellectual isolation is less well known—partly because it requires nearly constant access to the Internet. Quentin Schultze in his book, Habits of the High-Tech Heart, argues that the constant “collection and dissemination of information” offered by the Internet teaches us to be “impersonal observers” of the world, rather than “intimate participants.” And because of this, “[w]e become informational voyeurs of life rather than responsible participants in the knowing of our own cultures and communities.”

In essence Mr. Schultze is arguing that constant Internet access allows us to know all about people or things (think celebrities, sports teams, vacation spots, iPods, etc.), but without actually knowing them. It allows us to possess the superficial “knowing” that information provides without the deeper knowledge that “experience” provides.

This isolation is augmented once we begin fully relying on the Internet for information and cease interacting with people.

However, my greatest concern is the potential for societal stupidification. Constant access to information will create people whose brains are on the Internet. In other words, the storage space in our minds will be reserved for knowledge of “where-to-find-what” on the web, with little actual content retained. Once Internet access becomes constant the logical question becomes, “Why commit anything to memory when I can just Google it?”

Why bother to teach yourself how to replace a tire if step-by-step instructions are constantly available using nation-wide Wi-Fi? If your cellphone and laptop become constant sources of all necessary information, why memorize anything but your girlfriend’s name?

The truth is that we only memorize what we fear we’ll forget. Constant access to the Internet eliminates the need to remember anything—accept how to find information on the Internet.

The scary question becomes: When these high-tech luxuries are taken away, perhaps as the result of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, how will we cope? And more importantly, what will we really know?

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • I have long been impressed by those who can, from memory quote dozen’s of bible verses, passages from books, and whole poems, but then, at the same time I feel guilty, knowing that I do this barely enough.

    Your “what if” scenario is very frightening, just as it was during Hurricane Katrina. The internet does have its uses and computers do have their uses, I know, growing up as the daughter of a computer programmer, but when we do rely on them as the source of all learning it’s like leaning on a broken reed, at any given time it can break and cut your hand.

    I do enjoy using Google, and it is addicting, but if the knowledge I learn takes longer to hunt down and is more trouble to find, I will more likely than not remember it longer.

    Now I have to get back to my private library out in our addition. 🙂

  • Great post guys! I realize this is a repost, and I’ve read it before, but I don’t think I commented before.

    Again, I was struck by your understanding of the combat mindset. Most Christians see life as an opportunity, and Christianity as a great big bowl of blessings, which it can be.

    However, being a Christian in America, automatically puts you in combat, in enemy territory. We’re behind enemy lines, and we need to know it, and act like it.

    With this combat attitude towards everything we do, my family wakes up with this thought in mind: Satan is roaming this earth, seeking US to devour. We’re on his property, and he wants to drink us down. He will try to neutralize our fighting force.

    A good soldier relies on everything, but trusts nothing except his commander, the guy next to him, and most of all, the gun in his hand. This means, we don’t trust technology to always stick around. We don’t trust google to be available to us forever. The only ‘weapon’ that we can count on, is the Word of God.

    I could really go on, and on, and on, but this was all just to say, your post spawned some very interesting thoughts, twice in a row.

    Great writing, and great points!

    Keep it up guys, and God Bless!

    In Christ, John.

  • Very interesting Brett�Lot�s of thought provoking points�

    It strikes me that with the speed at which technology is developing, easy access is only gong to get easier. With that prospect before us, it would then become our duty to exercise discipline to take the time to actually learn and participate, instead of just amassing a mind full of www addresses.
    Legally speaking where ever there is a right/privilege there is a responsibility. If we have the privilege of nearly unlimited access to information, then we have a duty as well – the duty to DO something with that information. And as Christians, as you two so rightly point out, we can�t settle for just �something,� we must do hard things.

  • Yeah, that really is rather frightening: what if America becomes a country of informationalized zombies; only truly knowing how to find information, and not really know it. What would happen two or three years down the road? Would we stagnate as a country, and not do any real thinking? It is a very real possibility in my mind.

  • Interesting thoughts!

    A good friend of mine told me last weekend about a book he read called “The Gutenberg Galaxy”, analysing (amongst other things) the effect of the printing press on culture. Apparently one of the effects was a marked decrease in the ‘memory capacity’ (read : memory utilisation) of the average civilian. If increased accessibility of information several hundred years ago led to a drop in memory utilisation, then this recent explosion of information-accessibility, which surely far outweighs that just of the introduction of books, could well have the effect you warn of! It will be interesting to see…

    And of course for us ‘Rebelutionaries’ (great name, BTW! 🙂 ), let us practice at least the ‘hard thing’ of memorising Scripture, even if nothing else! 🙂

    Oh – BTW – there’s a typo in the final paragraph of your blog post – should read “except” not “accept”. (Feel free to delete this sentence from my comment once you fix the typo / if you bother fixing the typo. 🙂 )

  • I love the idea of nationwide wi-fi, because then I could use the internet on road trips. As someone who’s majoring in something to do with computers, I can’t do a lot of my homework without internet access because all my professors who consider themselves enviromentally friendly put things online to save paper (and we don’t have to worry about losing it). My campus aready has complete wi-fi coverage, and it’s very nice to be able to pull out my laptop and work on a website anywhere just like I would be able to take out a sketch pad and draw anywhere.

  • Very interesting post – you gave me some things to think about. As a technically-minded person I have always thought that increased access to wi-fi was good, representing advances in technology, science and knowledge. However, I see the danger that you pointed out. On the other hand, along with Rachel, my school relies heavily on the Internet and for that reason I personally appriciate increased wi-fi availability. In short, your post has made me think, and I thank you for that!

    In Christ,

  • I believe that access to high-speed internet solution is a boon and a bother in differing ways. First off, nation-wide access would allow vast sources of information to be accessed at any time and thus allow for easy research and data gathering. However, when the internet becomes too easy to access, other forms of data research such as books and experiments become less used and those skills decline. We need to allow technology to expand and increase whilst protecting other highly valuable methods of obtaining knowledge. When we become to relient on computers and technology, we become unable to function in emergency situations where such instruments are not available. We need to strike the right balance between technology and traditional methods of knowledge gathering.

  • I find you take on this interesting.

    On one hand I quite agree that TV, the internet, and other technology has divided us from social contact. Why go out and do anything with real people when you can just sit at home and “iSocialize” on the internet? Its sad and true that most Americans socialize via tv shows and myspace.

    On the other hand that thinking says something about this website. Do your readers/followers really know you? Sure they like how they perceive how you are through reading your profile and writings, but is what they perceive actually you? Could you have done what you have in the real world with even a fraction of the success? Sure today you can claim a certain celebrity and a book deal due to the success of your blogging on the internet. However could you have had the same effect with no technology, just your 2 feet and voice from day one of the “rebelution?”

    Technology allows us to live in a world we wish to see and to present ourselves to others how we want them to see us. But in the middle truth is but a shadow because the real world is lost in projected and perceived desires.

  • Wow, this is a great thing to be talking about. The idea of a world wide Wi-Fi sounds like a great idea, but the more I think about it I realize that if I could be on the computer all the time; I would. (I am considered a geek by the majority of my friends seeing how I like to be taking electronical stuff apart.) So if I could use the internet 24-7 I would be downloading uploading and working on computers, and have no time for anything else. (Or at least I would have to make time to do my devotions and stuff.) Also if you could get on the internet whenever you wanted the site you are always on will have no big post, because you were on it for the past 2 hours. WHen this happens people might just start searching random stuff. Searching radom stuff can then get you into all types of addictions. This would then creat conflicts between family and friends; breaking relationships up.

    Global Wi-Fi can also track you anywhere you go. If you go to school someone would know. If you went to your friends house someone would know. This will become the same as a credit card; as soon as you use it someone knows exactly where you are. So, like all things that sound good it can also be used for other reasons.

  • Sometime ago we had a power outage in my area. The computer and televioson and nintendo wii that my siblings and I use to entertain ourselves were out. We had loads of fun going to the library (which still had power) to get books and putting together a puzzle. However, my dad couldn’t get some vital emails he needed for work, and I missed a phone call from a friend of mine who i rarly see asking if we wanted to get together.

    So while I agree that we can become dependant Impartial viewers from the internet, I think that it’s important to have, and whether we like it or not, our society has tilted this way.

    So, it is therefore important for us to keep involving ourselves in the internet that we read. We can read a friend’s blog, but as we do we need to also mantain a real relationship with them. Technology is just a part of our world, we need to learn to use it to our advantage. Don’t let it lake over and It won’t.

  • As always, an excellent post. It’s interesting that though we now have more access to more information, it seems that we have less access to people. It is so hard to connect to people nowadays.

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rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →