I talk and write frequently about the dangers of preaching to the choir, but I am one of the preachers and one of the choir, not as much of a hypocrite as Al Gore perhaps, but a hypocrite nonetheless.
So this is clearly a complicated matter. Many new sources of information have indeed opened up because of the Internet, a huge number, and many of them I am particularly grateful for. But the opportunities for propaganda and disinformation have grown significantly as well, possibly equally.
Simultaneously the mind’s ability to concentrate may have been negatively impacted. Gore’s utopian “informed citizenry” is actually approaching a citizenry of A.D.D., reaching for their mice and remote at the slightest flicker of boredom. The consequence of this is an inability to reason through things. Everything just moves too quickly. Deep thought is boring or too time consuming.
I am exaggerating here, of course. The Internet is a fabulous thing and we all love it. We can’t live without it. Most of us are “always on,” as the saying goes. And I’m not a Luddite and not about to become one. If I’m not the first person on my block with the Google Glasses perched on my nose or an iWatch on my wrist, I’ll be among the first. I’m hooked.
But when it comes to an “informed citizenry,” caveat emptor. The Internet is a weapon that can cut many ways. It can be an instrument of totalitarianism as much as anything else. The major role of intelligence agencies, Ion Pacepa has told us and he should know, is disinformation, not espionage. If there ever was a case of “Trust But Verify,” the Internet is it.
Gore’s words (I will resist saying “as usual”) are to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. But let’s not jump all over the guy. We can’t blame him for hyping his invention.