Today's Potemkin Village?


There exists in our “modern” age a dangerous “illusion” that one can have legitimate “spiritual” relationships in chat rooms, forums, blogs, discussion groups, myspace, and the like. Is that really true? Is it really possible? How many children will have to be reported in the news to have been abducted—deeply scarred for life, or murdered—by those purporting “convincingly” to be someone they are not, before the adults “get it” regarding the deception, misrepresentation, lies, and hidden identities on the “web”?

John Dvorak, a world-renowned pioneer in the world of computers and the internet, recently made this statement regarding “communities” on the internet:

“Hooking up is not a community. I’m of the opinion that there is no such thing as a real community online. It’s a ‘pretend’ community that we like to feel we’re a part of [stroking egos, inflaming passions, feeding frenzy gossip and opinions, supposedly filling emptiness of life]. These vanity Web sites serve other noncommunity purposes. But everyone knows that these systems are flaky and their users fickle. So their real value is transitory. With this in mind, how valuable is any of this social networking? I can assure you that fragility [and deceit] is never factored in. And of course this has never been studied, and nobody even wants to talk about it. An online community can indeed be ‘fun’ to belong to—if you have the time or inclination. But please do not take it seriously, and never believe that you’re part of a true community. Get out of your house, and you’ll find the community out there in the street. That’s real.” —Dvorak

In 1787 a suitable parallel to the world of “internet communities” in chat rooms and discussion lists occurred in the Crimea region on the Black Sea. The prince of Russia, General Grigory Potemkin, in an effort to impress Catherine the Great with his own “love” and greatness, created an elaborate imaginary, substance-less world. These have come to be known as the infamous “Potemkin Village.” Queen Catherine was promenaded through the region recently conquered by Potemkin, and shown gloriously impressive towns, docks, and palaces. While impressive from the road, much of the impressive “community”…was fabricated as a false-front make-believe world—made of pasteboard! To fill out the illusion of reality, the same peasants and flocks were brought in front of her again and again, in different areas. From her Royal Carriage, the accomplishments were quite convincing, and elaborately flattering to her.

Make no mistake as you play on the internet, if you are naive enough and bored enough to wander in blogs and chat rooms and phony “expert” discussion lists—these “communities” of “experts” and seemingly “sincere” internet wanderers are, even by the observation of Mr. Dvorak, nothing but a “Potemkin Village.” These seductive “communities” of “common mind and heart” are a façade of smoke, mirrors, and often corrupt, lying perverts of truth. As Dovork pointed out in his exposé, if you don’t go with the party line, the “members” will turn from flattery to devouring the challenger, with lies and threats, in a heartbeat. Again, how many times must it even make “news” headlines of the deceptions and false identities and vulgar hate crimes that begin with “innocent conversations” under the cloak of anonymity, or misrepresentation of motives or history, before “adults” apply the principle to themselves, as well as their children, on the internet. There IS no “safety” or “honesty” or “community” or “fellowship” amongst the masses of empty lives who create a “Potemkin Village” in their forums and chat rooms, venting and lying, seducing and violating honest people.

The “business world” is well aware, and now acting legally against the “disgruntled” dismissed ex-employees who lie maliciously on the internet. Of course, fallen human nature being what it is, the “internet attacks” against business, against race and skin color, and against anyone who presents an alternate viewpoint than culture-religion of what Jesus desires, attack for the same reasons: pride, jealousy, and bigotry. The known results of playing like this on the internet are many documentable broken marriages, depression, destroyed teens and empty lives.

All would do well, as Dvorak said, to find Life “on the street”—with real people, face to face!! (Acts 2:42-47, 1Cor.12, Heb.3:12-14) It will require you and me, too, to be honest and vulnerable and sacrificial. We mustn’t “hide” under a grocery sack mask on the internet, disguised as “spiritual” with its adrenaline rush of gossip and darkness. Jesus has called us to face to face, side by side, “parakaleo” as the only place you will find Life that is truly Life. The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. The LIFE becomes the light of men. Swallow your fears and try it in the workplace, the neighborhood, and your home and others’, evenings, weekends, “daily” as God said. You won’t regret it.

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