One of my regular ruminations is about how new communications technologies help shape us. Another one is how the middle has fallen out of so much of our discourse in society, as shown by the new levels of partisanship in politics and the rise of popular wing nuts on both the left and the right. And certainly we witness this in the church, where one is either considered a liberal or a fundamentalist. So I was intrigued when I received this post from my old college friend Bill Graff from his home in Taipei, where he suggests that the binary nature of our new communication technologies may be exacerbating the trend toward the extremes:
“When you and I were kids/young adults, our parents always accused us of being too impatient. If you recall, oodles of printer’s ink were given to the first ‘television generation,’ and what seemed to ‘old farts’ the desire of their children to have the world fixed in the same time frame as a sitcom, about 30 minutes.
Now, however, technology has provided for something even quicker and faster than the old-fashioned ‘glass teat:’ instant digital communications (and it’s logical outcome, social networking). I have nothing but praise for the minds who created this artificial nervous system.
But one (of many) of the unintended consequences seems to be the loss of ‘middle ground.’ Digital systems know ‘1’ or ‘0,’ true or false, black or white, saturation and cutoff, and can evaluate multiple functions and terms in fractional microseconds.
Analog systems tend to create a lot of ‘well maybe. . .’ which is incompatible with expectations of many contemporary young folks. This tendency to react rather than think shall create many new challenges. It will continue to be important to keep ‘the middle’ (moderating, middle class, middle earth, middlefish pond, etc.)” (William Graff, personal post)