As my dear readers have probably guessed, I like the Internet.
Seriously, the Internet is amazing: an invisible, intangible, worldwide web of information, news, pictures, videos and funny cat pictures, all accessible through a few clicks or keystrokes. Need something? Type it into Google or some other search engine, wait a few seconds and voilà! You have it! Even the world’s best libraries can’t compare to the Internet’s incredible speed, marvelous efficiency, up-to-date accuracy and comprehensive variety.
A couple of weeks ago, a strange thought drifted into my caffeine-addled mind. The Internet brings together the best (and worst) of humankind in one place. Anyone anywhere with an Internet connection can contribute to the Internet, building a vast and ever-expanding construct—something entirely artificial. The Internet is unprecedented. Nothing like it exists, or could possibly exist, in nature. It is a unique triumph of humankind, one only humankind could create and sustain. The Internet is something to which people, cultures and societies everywhere have contributed.
It made me think of the Tower of Babel.
Most of us know the story, I think. The book of Genesis in the Bible describes how humankind came together in an early age of Earth to build a tower to heaven. This building, the Tower of Babel, had two purposes. It was a monument to the pride of humanity and an anchor to prevent them from scattering across the world.
God, however, had other plans. He confounded the language of the people building the Tower of Babel. Construction halted when its builders couldn’t communicate, and humanity eventually spread over the earth as God had planned.
I’m not saying the Internet is evil—good heavens, no! I think the Internet is fantastic.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but notice its similarities to the Tower of Babel. The Internet has united humanity in a way Babel could not; thanks to online translators, even differences of language are not a problem! The Internet records the greatest accomplishments of humankind, and could even be called a monument to human achievement. It’s an artificial world ruled by immediate gratification, quick searches, streaming videos and instant communication. The Internet is a world over which humanity holds absolute sway.
Weeks ago, on the same evening I pondered the Internet and the Tower of Babel, there was a terrific storm. It was majestic, exciting, terrifying and awesome. Trees bent and thrashed in the wind. Rain dashed against my windows. Lightning flashed and thunder cracked. As I dozed off, a flash of lightning penetrated my curtains and closed eyelids to wake me up instantly—it was as though lightning had struck right there in my bedroom.
As I lay awake, I kept thinking about the neat, well-behaved world of the Internet and the wild, overwhelming world outside my window. The storm and its peals of thunder seemed almost like God laughing.
In the morning, appropriately enough, the Internet was gone.
It took nearly a week to have it fixed. In that time, I did more reading than usual. My younger brother and I leafed through my copy of Hyrule Historia and waxed nostalgic over our childhood memories. We enjoyed life without Internet. It wasn’t bad at all.
Now the Internet is back. I’m thankful to have it, and glad to be reminded that it’s just a tiny part of a much bigger, better world!