A Contemporary Screwtape Letter (2 of 3)

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*The second part of my class assignment. Once again the tyranny of the deadline reverted further tweaking, but here is what made the cut thus far.

My dear Wormwood,

I am pleased with your progress with our digital tools, but you still lack a nuanced understanding of their effect on our subjects. Like our prey you naively focus on instrumentality without a concern for ontological potential. Have you noticed the vehement reaction when anyone attempts a criticism of digital mediums? These tools are no longer tools they are culture and identity. They a part of who people are as much as their ancestry and native tongue, and their being is more enmeshed with the machine than ever.

This close relationship with the machine results in their trying to keep pace with it. They receive a notice, usually via some obnoxious dinging or vibration, that lets them know a new piece of information has arrived. Like Pavlov’s dog they check instantly no matter if they in the middle of cooking, reading, or even driving (the rhythm of this culture demands instantaneously engagement)—and consume the images and information.

Efficiency is the new humanity and watching them implode in their race against the machine is the most exquisite delicacy in an age.Even though the Enemy has tried to prevent this through His Sabbath, and through voices like McLuhan, they are too preoccupied arguing with complete strangers to have time to listen.

Remember when writing came into the Enemy’s camp? The community of storytellers became dependent upon a reader, then a scholar, and all manner of hierarchies and abuses of powers ravaged them. For all they knew the Priest pronounced curses on them in church—helpless until that miserable Luther…but we managed to use the printed press against them too. They sacrifice critical thinking for the promise of progress and wait in long lines to obtain the latest tool they will not only use to make their life but break it. Remember, the computer developed to handle calculations for the hydrogen bomb—not so people could watch a cat “boop” a dog on the nose. Ignorant humanity still believes in the neutrality of their tools. Their children livestream their own suicides and they simply choose to swipe those images aside with that of a kitten smelling a flower.

As for the Church, it isn’t much of a concern so your alarm at the handful of techno-critics is grossly unfounded. The Enemy’s camp has been successfully divided into those who pine for new and those too terrified to use it critically—the blind and the scared are easy marks. Those who avoid the Internet are chastised as Luddites and those who choose to use it critically are labeled the same, and shamed as those who would deny knowledge to humanity.

Now about your own relationship with this culture, I understand you spent the entire evening Pinning sunsets, puppies, and other aspects of creation? You either have not been told or simply forgotten that, unless you adjust the settings, everyone can see. You have an unnatural love for the nature that is most troublesome. Be a bit more selective.  We want people to fall in love with the images themselves not to the reality they reveal.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

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