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The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking


You are reading this on the internet. You probably consider yourself a well-rounded individual; someone who can handle navigating the information superhighway without lashing out at your neighbour with a slash-hook.

Humanity is well used to the slow digest and assimilation of information. We have had tablets, scrolls, papyrus et al. for a long time at this point – media which allow us to dip in, work at our own rate and require true interpersonal skills for discussion afterward.

The net and television are very different in this regard. When we use these sources we are at a remove from the real world, and to a certain extent its implications. We are fed information and brought along at pace. We are shown ads depicting how we ought to live, given information that irritates us, we can be harassed, robbed, feted and more. And all of it in a semi virtual state.

Take TV for example. Images wash past the viewer pushing them from emotional pillar to post – images of violence, greed, love, hate, the whole gamut of human experience. While the vast majority can handle this it still casts a harsh light on what we have and haven’t, who we are and aren’t. In the 1980s and 90s Bhutan experienced crime rate increases. Then from 1999 when it became the last country to allow TV more serious social issues began to be seen; crimes such as murder began to occur, families broke up, thievery increased. It’s okay though, it’s still a very safe country though, just expensive to visit.

The net is a different beast. This seems to cause real craziness from German cannibals meeting online, to Korean parents allowing their baby to starve to death, to neo-nazis gathering, and so on ad nauseum. The gloves are really off online.

Just as TV affected the Bhutanese, so we are starting to wake up to how the internet is affecting us. After all, how many of us do real world things like using the Yellow Pages when we need a number? It’s much easier to go to Google (or Bing, if there is something amiss in your head already).

Introduction to Communication Studies, John Fiske, Routledge, 2002
Crime statistics and rates in Bhutan
Alternet article on the human response to digital media

This article was posted by on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 at 20:04.
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