Commonly, the word "discipline" is used to mean obliging people to adhere to a given set of values or rules, if not punishing those who transgress. The operative words are: "oblige" and "given values". Is it not possible that that form of discipline which seeks to impose rules on those who it is feared will refuse them is based on a self-fulfilling prophecy? Does not casting doubt on the individual's ability to be responsible inherently rob him or her of the intimate feeling of value that comes from being recognised as a responsible individual and in so-doing renders him or her irresponsible? Or is that simply a naive belief that human beings are fundamentally good?
It might be fruitful to explore the idea of Internet use and related governance in terms of the tools of discipline mentioned above even if the subject is potentially full of traps and pit-falls. What would using the Internet according to these principals imply?
First of all it would mean taking time and making a continual effort to think things out for ourselves rather than hastily swallowing potted, pushed-news and indulging in instant, push-button choices.
One could argue that the Internet is used by market forces as a tool to move towards instant gratification, quite the opposite to the discipline advocated by Scott Peck. Yet is instant gratification an inevitable or desireable goal for human society? To what extent does it not lead to a total dependence on those who gratify us? The vision of bliss of the breast-fed baby may awake a deep-seated desire in us to return to that seemingly idylic state, but a society of drip-fed adults is hardly an endearing vision of the future of humanity.
Above all, these principals shift the onus of responsibility squarely on rthe shoulders of each and everyone of us as individuals. We cannot hide behind our belonging to a group, religion or company to justify our behaviour. Nor can we hide behind the technology or membership of a particular group as some people do to behave in outrageous ways or express intolerant, if not outright racist points of view.
Although it is both natural and necessary for humans to belong to groups however big or small, it is essential to know that in the long run each of us always stands alone.
Alan McCluskey.Share or comment
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