On Infinite Accessibility

My oh my, what a wonderful day we’re having.

Why oh why, are we looking for a way outside it?

How long, oh Lord, can you keep the whole world spinning under our thumbs?

“My Oh My” – Punch Brothers

What have we lost in ourselves when we gain access to the infinite? And by infinite, here, I do not mean “Ultimate.” I mean our infinite accessibility. We have unprecedented access to everything, and I have to wonder whether by virtue of our infinite accessibility, we have lost ourselves.

Our humanity is founded upon many things, but two stand out: discovery and anxiety. One drives the other, or perhaps both drive both. We look inside of ourselves and we see nothing, an abyss, a missing piece that cannot be named or controlled. We sense our turmoil because we are incomplete, and that brings us to anxiety. That anxiety pulls us into discovery, into the leap into darkness, into opening our-selves up to the pure unknown. Upon our discovery of that which is new, foreign, distinct from our own little microcosms, we are content, and then, after a time, we are anxious again. Is this all there is? If that was so fulfilling, if that was so exciting and beautiful and terrifying, maybe there is more? So we become anxious again, and we are driven to discovery again and again and again.

Except.

We are no longer explorers, no longer anxious, no longer willing to wallow in our misery and anxiety and dread and allow it to push us to extremes. The screen pulls us in, constantly. We feel anxiety, only for a moment, a nanosecond, and we distract ourselves from this feeling because it is ugly and unpleasant. Reality grabs a hold of us with its dark, cold hands, and we say No, no, not today. Today I want to know what my high school friend is eating for lunch. Today I want to know what nonsense Donald Trump spouted from his mouth. Today I want to watch a video on how to make phở. 

The screen, the internet, the world and its words are calling us to its warmth. Reality is cold and desolate and bleak: it grabs us and begs us to stare into it, unwaveringly, so that we may make something of it.

God is not a meaning-giver, but a meaning taker. God says I will take away your imposed meaning on reality because it is not true. It is a mask you put on yourself, it is a security blanket to help you sleep at night. God doesn’t believe in night lights.

God’s presence makes us aware of the gap in our humanity that demands dread. This dread is the first step towards “dying-to,” the first step towards the abyss of daily crucifixion, because it is here that meaning is not given but created. God, the true infinite, has been dethroned by a false infinite (otherwise known as the Internet). The false infinite of pure, unadulterated accessibility gives us control and meaning and takes away our anxiety. But to become fully human, we require a true infinite. One that enhances our anxiety, lets us sit in it for a while so we recognize our insignificance.

Let go of the warmth of the screen. Embrace darkness and reality, for it is here where we discover, and it is here that we become fully human.

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