Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Evil Lurks . . .

The theme this week is “Murder Online.” There was an opinion put out by St. Augustine and echoed by C. S. Lewis that there is no such thing as pure evil. Evil is the use of a good thing at a time, in a place, or in a way that is forbidden.

The Internet is a Good Thing, but there are people who use it in a way that is forbidden. There are pedophiles who use it to entrap unwary children; there are thieves who use it to steal people’s money; there are con artists who separate honest people from their valuables via the Internet; there are those who use it to bully, to defame, to spread vicious lies or rumors.

Should we shut down the Internet? No, of course not. The Internet is too valuable a tool and has very quickly become a lifeline to some, new entertainment possibilities to others, an expediter of business to many. And many of these evil-doers are caught by law enforcement, which turns the Internet into its own trap for them.

I no longer submit a paper manuscript of my novels to my publisher. Nor does my editor send me proof copies to correct. It’s all done on the Internet. It may be hard on the Post Office, losing business from me and other authors, but it’s faster and far more convenient doing it this new way. On the other hand, I am not able to write a novel about using the Internet in some clever wicked way, because I am not computer savvy enough to understand how computers and the Internet work. I used to be ashamed of that fact -- and indeed, still am, to a degree -- but then I drive a car without understanding how all the parts work, and use electricity without understanding how my home is wired. A science fiction writer once declared that a sufficiently advanced civilization’s science would be indistinguishable from magic. I think a lot of us ordinary folk are living in a culture that is approaching that status -- not because we believe in magic, but because many of us (perhaps most) don’t understand why flipping that little switch on the wall makes the room light up, or how we can type a message on a keyboard and, without connecting our computer to a telephone line, can send that message to someone on the other side of the world.

On the other hand, because I write murder mysteries, I do feel I’m coming closer to the answer to an old radio program question: Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man? The Shadow -- and I -- do. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

1 comment:

Betty Hechtman said...

I can certainly get behind the idea of science seeming like magic. I remember when I got my first laptop. I't turn it on and be awed that suddenly I was connected to the world. It sure felt like magic to me.