It is too fast for mariner and other elderly folk. It is common knowledge that the beginning of the twenty-first century is a tumultuous border between a disappearing culture and an emerging one. Computers began the transition seventy years ago, and then the internet emerged. These two advances alone changed how a person views daily reality. In fact, reality itself is subject to revision.
Mariner read in his email today that the hottest market in software-related purchases is to buy and register an avatar that represents you while you are logged on. First, accessing the internet required a simple password; then it was a password and a clue; then the passwords had to be extraordinarily complex; then many services required the names of relatives; then a four-digit pin was added. Taken together these identifications assured others on the internet that the linked person was actually the real person. But now all that folderol will be unnecessary because you will be an animated creature or thing when you are logged on.
Two movies come to mind: The Matrix and Avatar. At least Neo retained his human form in The Matrix. In Avatar Jake Sully had to have blue skin and a funny nose. Facebook has been in the news for its aggressive pursuit of metaverse, a three-dimensional internet that seems lifelike similar to your representation in an online game. When you log on to Facebook, you won’t just be logged on; you will be one of the creatures in a bizarre zoo.
Ironically, mariner is reading a book about how we define factual reality. The central point is that truth is not a finite object. The human perception of truth is just that – an ever changing perception based on what is judged to be the most dependable information at that moment. Unfortunately the computer combined with the internet has loosed Pandora’s Box in the form of unsubstantiated ‘truths’. Social media is the evil device that can use false information flamboyant enough to sway our perception of reality.
The clue that hints at the future culture is the dependence on unsubstantiated information – including an electronic shaping of our interaction with reality. Google makes billions of dollars selling access to our personal profiles, shaping what we know, believe and depend on as a full and truthful reality. Mariner often makes the point that opinion doesn’t need facts; today, manipulating opinion is out of control and is the biggest threat to the new culture.
 The Constitution of Knowledge, A Defense of Truth by Jonathan Rauch. Published by the Brookings Institution 2021, ISBN 9780815738862.