There’s a lot of media chatter about how we’ve traded away our privacy for the blessing of the technology gods. It’s a big deal. No going back. Maybe we’ll find ways to regulate how techies monetize our identities, but in the main, it does seem that the instantaneous and ubiquitous access to everything all of the time means the end to secrets. It seems everyone can/will know everything/anything about everyone/anyone, and this knowledge rapidly coalesces as captured in the phrase “going viral”.
I call this “The Great Revealing”. News and information don’t just dribble out like it used to, sometimes purposefully classified as Top Secret by those who had control of the content. There will no longer be a compliant journalism that kept secret the sexual escapes of John Kennedy, or the nastiness of Lyndon Johnson, or the polio of Franklin Roosevelt.
We are all quickly becoming self-disclosed whether we actively chose this or not. We have behaved like lemmings, mesmerized by the razzle-dazzle of snazzy-jazzy gadgets and info, losing sight of what we were giving up in the process, not recognizing the looming cliff edge of “no personal boundaries.”
There’s some irony in this for the spiritually alert, since spiritual maturity necessitates a completely disclosed self before God. Psalm 139 describes this:
O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O LORD, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it…
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
This self-disclosure comes as a personal choice and is largely relegated to the interior space of one’s own heart and mind. The Great Revealing, on the other hand, is an external condition that now swamps our culture, ready or not.
I note there is some positive benefit that comes with this ruthless transparency. It’s given birth to movements like #MeToo. Abusers are finding they can’t hide. That’s a good thing. So too, racists, liars, and hypocrites of every sort (even the Christian variety). That’s good too. But it’s a searing condition. We feel raw and strung out from all this revealing.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking though from my perch at Christ Church: Wouldn’t it be terrific if the Great Revealing disclosed a community of faith authentically, if not perfectly, committed to loving God and neighbor? That would be something truly useful…