I’ve decided not to rebuild my computer for the time being.
My relationship with computers has always been a problematic one. The phrase computer addiction has been tossed around by a handful of people in my life, and while I am loathe to concede to such a suggestion, I am beginning to wonder if my existence is really any better off with the presence of a computer in my bedroom. While the internet’s most zealous proponents insist that the internet is totally different from TV because of its user-oriented, participatory nature, I am starting to think that perhaps, perhaps, the end results are ultimately the same for much of the internet’s usage. Particularly, when Wired starts claiming that the scientific method has been debunked in the face of the plethora of data provided by Google, I wonder if the internet has ultimately enabled nothing but glorified, slack-jawed navel-gazing, much the same as what happens when one watches television for a lengthy period of time.
Admittedly, this is also sparked by having seen Wall-E, a rather glorious film that unabashedly criticizes the focus of American culture. The human characters in the film live on a ship devoted to endless entertainment and ultimate convenience, and as a result, they’re all completely obese and self-absorbed. While this isn’t directly stated, they’re also immortal – they’ve survived for over seven-hundred years, but they haven’t done anything in that time except bitch at each other over matters of spilled milk.
This brought me back to one of the lectures I listened to at L’Abri, which had a rather unique analysis of different systems of culture. I can’t remember all of them, but here’s a few.
Communism: man’s greatest end is to produce.
Capitalism: man’s greatest end is to consume.
Materialism: man’s greatest end is to be entertained.
The more I think about it in these terms, the more convinced I become that Jesus was right in stating that man’s greatest end is to serve. I recently watched 12 Angry Men, and just tonight, Forrest Gump. While Henry Ford’s character and Tom Hanks’ character are quite different, their commonality is in their service. The remarkable thing about service is that it does not require one to be a genius, to be rich, or to have anything at all. We can serve at every moment and every point in our lives, and it seems to me that we are creatures made for serving.
Which brings me back to the start. Where does service enter in to the internet? How can a one serve anything but pwnage inside of WoW? How can one serve on facebook, youtube, or myspace? These are entities devoted to self-service. It would be like attempting to serve by watching Comedy Central.
My point is this: entertainment has its place, and I enjoy much of what popular media has to offer. But these cannot be the center of my life, if I’m to be a fulfilled human being.
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.