Salon discusses the Internet and the two poles of “Google is making us stupid” and “the Internet will liberate humanity.”
In “A Brief History of Everything”, Ken Wilber resurrected Arthur Koestler’s holons: autonomous structures that are themselves part of a larger structure, for instance, cells within our body. We ourselves are part of the larger structure of society, and it has just developed a global voice and conversation via the Internet, Youtube and social networks. The 2008 election was the first in which a significant peer-to-peer conversation took place unmediated by the powers that be, the main-stream media.
The trend in our culture has been a wider and wider identification. We grow up identifying with our family, our tribe; all else is a threat, an enemy. As we mature, we extend the net of empathy more broadly, until we include all of humanity and beyond. Education and communication are essential aspects of this, and the Internet offers a world-wide conversation to facilitate this.
But I want to speculate further, to suggest that maybe this is the next step in evolution, that we do not only use DNA to pass on life, but the whole of culture also; the Internet is the flood that finally is joining all the small puddles from around the world into a melting-pot of ideas and empathy, and and from it, great things will arise. We are part of a larger thing that has a life of its own, and we can no more understand it that a cell can understand the body it is in.
Finally, I will counter the nay-sayers by pointing them to Steven Pinker: A brief history of violence, wherein he talks about how violence has decreased across the millenia, centuries and decades; proof that we can change, that we are not trapped by our lower selves.