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The Electronic Enigma

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Graphic by Taylor Rohleen

Graphic by Taylor Rohleen

Graphic by Taylor Rohleen

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This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I am awaked almost every night by the panting of the locomotive. It interrupts my dreams. There is no sabbath. It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. […] I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.

― Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle

 

A life without principle is no life at all. As humans, we spend our days with other humans, interacting, communicating, and being.

 

But, there is another life that manifests, an alternate universe, if you will. This is the life of which telecommunication is the means of living. This is the life without principle:

 

Our fingers clack on screens and keyboards as we deliver our moods and musings, all in the form of a perfectly-scripted text. There are no real emotions. Tone? Good luck deciphering that. Are they hurt or sarcastic? Who knows; take it cum grano salis.¹ Is this really happening? Even though it may seem like a simulation, apparently so.

 

And, what happens after the fact? How are we to act as if the tables have not turned? Perhaps they have even been flipped. The implications become more permanent when delivered via text. Though they live in the “cloud,” they are concrete.

 

Then, we have the slightly more “real” alternative: calling, via voice or video. In this day and age, we don’t call people for the sake of calling, and we would rather text our friends important news than call or simply tell them in real life. Our mindset is so altered that, for most, the very prospect of dialing a phone number is petrifying. Since it parallels actually addressing someone, apprehension fills our being and we shoot them a text instead.

 

On real life situations, Maya Angelou mused “that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” By texting, people will remember what you said, as it has now been fortified in both their memory and their device’s.

 

In light of the inherent retributions, I ask this: In what world is it acceptable to carry out these actions? Whether it is fighting, proclaiming love, or ending relationships, these online manifestations are downright cowardly and reflect apathy on the instigator’s behalf. This is not social decency, but social dysfunction.

 

We have succumbed to a society without morality, a society so desensitized that we feel texting and its counterparts are connecting. These platforms hold no merit to their tangible counterparts, for the human connection is real and raw and compassionate. It is the very foundation upon which we build trust, relationships, and correct correspondence.

 

If you have the audacity to carry out serious conversations through text, garner some basic human decency and go talk to someone, to their face. “Those who live by electronics, die by electronics. Sic semper tyrannis.”² Thus ever to telecommunication.

 

¹ With a grain of salt.

² Thus ever to tyrants.

About the Writer
Taylor Rohleen, Editor-in-Chief

Student Body President. Captain of the Swim Team. FJCL Vice President. Dancing Queen.

6 Comments

6 Responses to “The Electronic Enigma”

  1. Joanna DiPeppe on September 13th, 2018 11:05 am

    Wow! How confidently you’ve connected a Transcendentalist’s philosophy to your own! Yes, social media has become an integral part of everyday life, from politics, to news, to “friendship.” But should it have been permitted to? Only those who understand, like Thoreau, that “a community has no bribe that can tempt a wise man” have been able to strike a balance. In a later portion of Life without Principle, Thoreau goes on to admonish that “the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters [or in our case, “likes,”] proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard from himself this long while.” Our constant attachment to others’ lives (whether false or true) is daily separating us from our own. So have we “advanced,” so-called? Or have we fallen, “like the little girl, Alice, down a rabbit hole or an unexpected crevice into some new and topsy-turvy realm […] of unexpected giants (Loren Eiseley, The Unexpected Universe). According to naturalist, Loren Eiseley, we’ve lost something: We’ve migrated “from the solitude of the wood […] to the more dreadful solitude of the heart.”

  2. Charlotte on September 13th, 2018 4:18 pm

    This is so good!! Such an important topic.

  3. Livi King on September 14th, 2018 4:04 pm

    Taylor, this was a phenomenal read. Not just because of the important message, but because of the ease with which you were able to allude to other works of literary merit. I especially appreciate the Emerson and Vonnegut references. You’re amazing. Keep up the great work.

  4. Maya Harris on September 16th, 2018 9:01 am

    Such an inspiring and marvelous piece my best friend wrote!! Keep it up, and you’re going far in life! I love you more than you know.

  5. Clara on September 17th, 2018 1:16 pm

    Amazing as always. Very proud of you.

  6. Jason DiPeppe on September 21st, 2018 11:37 am

    “Brahouna, Takaru.”

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