Adam and Eve were forbidden from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Their disobedience caused them to be cast out of Eden and lose their close relationship with God.
Thanks to the Internet, we all get a huge bite of that same knowledge every day. With the possible launch of the Peeple, called “Yelp for people,” we will all be able to rate the people we know like we rate restaurants and home repair companies. (Bad press has shut it down … for now.)
It’s all part of our daily lives now. The world watches as a couple breaks up on an airplane and a fellow passenger invades the publicly private moment by Tweeting about it as it happens. The initial comments were re-Tweeted by thousands and then viral media like Buzzfeed followed up. (Viral is an appropriate term for Buzzfeed.)
Social media scolds descended on former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling for making a comparison between radical Islam and Nazis. The episode led the cowards at ESPN to suspend him … for being right. Fans sat mesmerized as music stars Taylor Swift and Nikki Minaj fought a mini-feud via Twitter – setting loose traditional media to cover the flap. Venomous gay sex advice writer Dan Savage sabotaged Rick Santorum’s Google results with a concerted hate campaign.
We stare as 33 million Ashley Madison customers have their most private details revealed – from credit cards, email and addresses to government jobs and sexual preferences. An estimated 15,000 of the accounts belonged to U.S. government employees. At least one customer reportedly killed himself over having that information revealed.
Conservative Josh Duggar was one of the millions caught in the hack. That continued his downward spiral that began when the public learned of he had committed sex crimes as a teenager. That horrible revelation knocked the Duggar family show “19 Kids and Counting” off TV.
Welcome to the world of infinite information without the knowledge of how to handle it.
Want to know who your friends are dating? Check their Facebook profile. Of course, you’ll see where they go, when they go and often hear every minor thought and concern about their relationship, as well. If a friend cancels plans with you, just check Facebook to find out what he or she really did that evening. Same for coworkers or employees. It’s an online lie detector, complete with evidence.
Try out Twitter to find the political opinions of not just everyone you know, but people you merely know about. Celebrate as actor James Woods risks his career offending Hollywood by calling the Planned Parenthood videos “vile.” Or bemoan liberal actress Lena Dunham’s support for the abortion organization.
No matter how much you may admire a celebrity, now they have baggage. If you are conservative, the odds are high that many stars you enjoy actually hate everything you believe in.
LinkedIn helps out If you are trying to track your friends’ careers, as well as making it pretty obvious which ones are job hunting. Personal blogs tell us more about the habits, the thoughts, the love lives, the losses and even the pets of everyone we know.
And each bit of knowledge gets stored in our brains and in databases at Google, Facebook, the NSA and more. The concept of personal privacy is long gone. Passwords are almost meaningless.
Few of us know precisely how to cope. Even celebrity parents like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have warned their son to stay off social media.
Who could blame them? Sites like Tinder have commoditized sex to the point where many younger people don’t even bother to date. “Dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr are fuelling [sic] a rise in syphilis, gonorrhoea [sic] and HIV, health experts have warned,” according to The Daily Mail. The trend in Millennial dating is reportedly 10 texts or less before sex.
Even ISIS has a thriving social media presence to recruit naïve, stupid or malevolent Westerners to its terrorist cause – 67 have already been arrested in the United States.
In short, the intersection of the real world and the virtual one is constant, powerful and dangerous. Equipped with the latest in phones smarter than we are, we have all become the media.
But we lack the common sense to sort through what we’ve learned. We’re going to uncover every flaw of one another – probably with accompanying video. Let’s just hope we learn to forgive … and forget.