I certainly wouldn’t have chosen this topic to be the first entry in a blog here. That decision was forced on me by my brother who did a very foolish thing while visiting me that involved creating an account here under a fake name. I don’t know what he posted. He was subsequently banned and I discovered it the next morning when I tried to get to the site on the computer he was using. But it turned out to illuminate a very subtle property of cyberspace that I think it would be wise of us to appreciate.
We are not simply having discussions and sharing our ideas. We are shaping ourselves. There is no way to disentangle what you are from what you say. Our minds take shape with repetition–we literally become what we direct our minds to do. We believe what we repeat to ourselves enough times regardless of whether it’s true. Committing deliberate fraud is a very strange circuit to reinforce I suspect. And I notice that it occurs a great deal more from people who have adopted ideas that would strain credulity to the breaking point for most of us (truthers, birthers, MIB freaks, etc. I’m sure most of you know what I’m referring to.)
Because the internet makes it so easy to commit fraud it tends to eventually entice anyone capable of it to do so. But it also gets ever better at making it easier to catch, and leaves everyone else more intolerant and motivated to be as honest and direct as possible. I see this as a fantastic fringe benefit of cyberspace–an opportunity to motivate a greater integrity in all mankind. This is because the person trapped in a fraud is forced to confront something about themselves they’ve been hiding. There is really only one way to redress fraud–to explain why you did it and pay for any damages. The only remedy for the damage cause by a lie is the truth. This process is likely to force more people who simply get morally sloppy or so impassioned they’ll do anything in desperation, to confront their mistake in the most genuinely therapeutic way. I think the net long term effect of this process is that we’ll achieve a greater appreciation for the true value of our own personal integrity.
The internet is apt to empower us in ways we cannot yet imagine. We leave a trail of bits of ourselves here not unlike the skin cells we shed into the carpet. It is a record of the development of our spirit, reflects what we care about, how we spend our time, what we think, say, and do. It is capturing our souls in the most meaningful way currently possible, by collecting together the bits an pieces that fall off, that end up here, where they may one day be used, like the complex reflections in an MRI machine, to reconstruct a functioning copy of our consciousness.
And perhaps that is the greatest blessing of cyberspace, the incentive to be who we really are, to share ourselves fluidly and frequently here, and to do that as honestly as accurately as we can just in case they one day figure out how to find our node in “human space” from the reflections of us left here inadvertently.