Monday, April 27, 2009

Escaping Anonymity

Tim Challies wrote a great article for TableTalk recently about the increased level of anonymity these days. He points to technology as playing a big role in this (centered around the Internet) and looks to the danger of life with decreasing levels of accountability. At one point in the article he says that "We are anonymous, impersonal people in a largely anonymous, impersonal world." Here's a key paragraph:
"In days past, anonymity was both rare and difficult. People tended to live in close-knit communities where every face was familiar and every action visible to the community. Travel was rare and the majority of people lived a whole lifetime in the same small geographic area. Os Guinness remarks that in the past 'those who did right and those who did not do wrong often acted as they did because they knew they were seen by others. Their morality was accountability through visibility.' While anonymity is certainly not a new phenomenon, the degree of anonymity we can and often do enjoy in our society is unparalleled in history."
Read the whole thing

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in a small town. My parents could have lived anywhere after my dad earned his degree in engineering, but they were raised in farming communities and wanted to raise me and my siblings in a similar environment. As my cousins routinely got in trouble in their big city schools in Seattle, my parents would remark that life would have been better for them if they were raised as we were--where everybody knew us.

    But I don't know about that. I went to class and noticed the guys with red eyes from smoking weed in their cars in the school parking lot. And overheard the earnest whispers of the girls who were confiding that they got medical excuses from class because they were getting abortions that week. Most of my high school classmates, are still back in eastern Washington state to this day.

    In the seventies, it was no longer a deterrent to do bad things because everyone knew you. In fact, the worse you were, and notorious the more admiration you got. Being a goody good girl like me did not make one popular at all. I lived downtown, and one young man killed another young man on graduation night on the next corner. Which is a block away from the police station. My hometown was famous for having a lot of cops around all the time. And still a lot of crap happened.

    My younger siblings were the type that didn't want to follow my example of clean living, and ironically, it was leaving Ephrata,WA for bigger cities that actually turned them around. If they stayed, it would have meant jail for most of them (baby sister got arrested on her graduation night). But now, they are all parents and have good jobs, and for all practical purposes, are pretty good citizens. Even though they aren't believers. God's grace and mercy on my family. And answers to my prayers so far. But if they stayed in our hometown, I don't think it would have turned out this good.

    My arguement is that it isn't where you are and who all knows you. An old high school friend, now saved, connected with me on Facebook, and we agree, Satan ran our hometown.