I just became a statistic: one of the thousands (millions?) of people whose email address get hijacked by spammers. I discovered this by getting some rejected mail from some of those spammers.
What a creepy world we live in; we not only can fall victim to a random street crime (always a risk in broad daylight around Berkeley); there are knock ‘em down “games” by hoodlums. And now we can fall prey to online criminals, who want to steal our passwords or even our identities.
As for the latter, I’ve had that happen a few times too. It’s another disturbing experience to get a phone call from, say, Bank of America, telling you that someone applied for a credit card in Las Vegas in your name. While, in the past, there were only limited ways a criminal could abuse you, now the possibilities are infinite.
If you’ve read my articles before, you know that I have decidedly mixed feelings about all technology. On the one hand, the computer is wonderful, for instance finding information censored by the MSM. It’s also a way to reach out and touch people all over the world, such as I’m doing right now by writing this.
But just as there are good people on the streets of Berkeley and New York, there are a lot of bad people as well. And this is true about the Internet; there are those using the new technology to help humankind. And then there are those dirty, rotten scoundrels who have no qualms about ripping people off, virtually.
The older I get, the more I become one of those people nostalgic for the “old days.” Of course, those days had their problems as well (though, at this moment, I’m hard pressed to think of anything).
I always shock young ‘uns when I tell them what it was like back in the day: For instance, telephones were landlines, with no answering machines. Either you answered the phone or not. And if the person got a busy signal, you know what? Everyone lived.
I still recall when I first moved to Berkeley thirty years ago and got my first telephone here. Those were the days before toll free numbers and customer service assistants from India.
I went over to the Pacific Bell store in North Berkeley, and patiently sat down and waited my turn. When the salesman assisted me, I had my choice of phones (they were free back then), as well as my pick of phone numbers.
It was the same scenario when I set up my utilities: I went to storefronts, met with live people, and made a human-to-human connection.
I can still remember when things changed: when corporations started gobbling each other up, and 800 numbers became the norm. Rather than interacting with a warm body, you called some phantom person somewhere in the United States. Of course, this has morphed into calling cheap labor oversees. How bizarre and unsettling that people all over the world have your personal information — social security number, mother’s maiden name — at their fingertips.
Most young people these days are fine with all of the virtual people in their lives. And some prefer as little contact with human beings as possible; face-to-face interactions are becoming more foreign and uncomfortable.
There’s a wonderfully wise and witty book on the subject, Talk to the Hand. It’s written by an older woman, who also grouses about how alienating is this Brave New World. She thinks that this dependency on computers has made millions of people functionally autistic. They can message people all over the world, but they don’t know how to look into another’s eyes.
I was talking to a new 50-something friend about this subject the other day, about how strange is the world we live in. We have two worlds to contend with: the real one and the virtual one, and it’s getting harder and harder to tell the two apart.
My insightful friend responded, “There are only two things that I know to be true. One is what is happening right before my eyes. And the other is God.”
So what is real? What is worthy of our constant attention? Is it World of Warcraft, X Box, CNN, or MSNBC?
I think it’s as my wise friend said: only this precious moment is real. . .and God. God is steadfast and unchanging; He is the only anchor in life’s turbulent storms.
And He is here, right now, just waiting for us to awaken from our lifelong slumber. All we need to do is take a moment and look. He –not Obama, not Biden, nor any human being — is the One we have been looking for all along.