Maybe I Want to Be Left Behind
A certain strand of Christian apocalyptic fervor caught the attention of the national media last month as Harold Camping and his followers awaited the return of Christ on May 21. As most of us anticipated, and perhaps not a few of his followers feared, the second coming was seemingly delayed. While Camping’s date setting relegated him to the fringes of the Christian apocalyptic tradition, a larger and more prominent swath of the Evangelical community in the US do expect the return of Christ to play out within a scenario not much unlike the plot of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind series. In multi-volume series, Christians are “raptured” out of this world before the onset of a period of tribulation leading up to the return of Christ and the establishment of his millennial kingdom. To be “left behind” under such circumstances would be decidedly bad, of course.
It turns out, however, that Evangelicals are not the only ones worried about being “left behind.” If Christian millennial fervor is largely out of fashion, a secular counterpart has emerged to take its place: technological millennialism. Here the hopes of humanity are pinned onto the regime of technology and its gifts, rather than on divine intervention. But the hopes of technological millennialism appear to also be accompanied by the nagging fear of being left behind. This was driven home for me as I read Daniel H. Wilson’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “The Terrifying Truth of New Technology.”
What is this terrifying truth? Well, it is this: If new technologies concern or annoy you, then what is really a matter is that you are simply getting old. Nothing rational or well-grounded in your concerns; just boring, conventional fear of aging. Wilson, the author of Robopocalypse (soon to be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg) is in reality quite hopeful about the technology. As he puts it,
"Each new generation builds on the work of the previous one, gaining new perspective. New verbs are introduced. We Google strange and dangerous places. We tweet mindlessly to the cosmos. We Facebook our own grandmothers. Continued on the next page