A New Generation of Conservative Thought

The Internet barbarian

By Dr. Grace Vuoto

February 8, 2011

American families are currently being held hostage by the Internet: Under the guise of being indispensable, the Internet is destroying the traditional family and wrecking the sanctity of the home.

Since the launch of the World-Wide Web in the early 1990s, this technology has been embraced into the bosom of American homes without due regard for its evil consequences. The Internet has become an indispensable tool for work, education, information and bills. Yet, never before were Americans exposed to such great risk: if the wider world is now at the fingertips of every citizen, so too is every citizen the potential victim of much of the tension and malice in the wider world.

The perils to our health and happiness are astounding. For example, pornography is now more accessible than ever before, impacting both women and men and their interactions. According to SafeFamilies.org, a Christian Website dedicated to helping families cope with pornography addiction, this phenomenon is no longer confined to the margins of our society. A wide swath of Americans are in the grip of porn addiction: 10 percent of adults are addicted to porn, 28 percent of these being women; more than 70 percent of men between ages 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a given month; and two-thirds of divorce lawyers surveyed said that pornography addiction is leading to marital breakdown in growing numbers. In addition, Christians and their Church leaders are under duress: more than half of evangelical pastors surveyed admitted to viewing pornography—and the same applies to surveys of Christian men.

In essence, the Internet is tearing families apart and is undermining Christian teachings on sexual conduct. Even the very guardians of this traditional moral code in a secular and liberal society cannot resist the temptations in our midst.

Moreover, the Internet presents a constant danger to children and teens. They can easily stumble upon or deliberately search for inappropriate content such as sexually explicit material; information on tobacco, drugs, or alcohol; and knowledge of violent, satanic, cult and hate groups. Also, there is the risk of youngsters being lured by pedophiles who seek their prey in Internet chat rooms.

Furthermore, one of the most-cited disadvantages of the Internet is that the line between work and play, office and home, is being blurred. If on the one hand, many more can work at home, this means too that the sanctity and serenity of the home is being infiltrated with the stress and demands of the workplace. As much as technology provides greater freedom and mobility, it also provides greater slavery to the job force.

A Feb. 5 New York Times article by Mickey Meece aptly asks “Who is the Boss, You or Your Gadget?” The report finds that all this “amped-up productivity” is contributing to a “growing sense of unease.” Our quality of life seems to be eroding: “Too often, people find themselves with little time to concentrate and reflect on their work. Or to be truly present with their friends and family,” states the article.

The Internet has thus provoked a profound social change in the very fabric of our lives: the “home has invaded work and work has invaded home and the boundary is likely never to be restored,” according to Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. The technology we have cavalierly introduced into our lives is exercising control over us: we are not the masters in our own homes; we are not the kings and queens in our castles.

One might argue that as technology progresses, so too do the tools we need to mitigate its negative consequences. Hence there are many online products that can be purchased to block harmful Internet sites. However, no one has asked the question: Why are the upholders of traditional morality in America always on the defensive? Why have we so recklessly allowed our homes to be first assaulted and then, only later, are obliged to rally to defend them? This means that we have relinquished our home first to the invader and then once the stranger is already raping us, we recognize the folly of our lethargy, and at last we rise to say: No more. Yet, we do so with the cowardice and confusion of the harlot who enjoys the taste of sin while decrying her plight.

There is no denying the pervasive moral laxity among even the traditionalists in America. The sad fact is that even Christians are drifting into the moral abyss. The constant seepage of destruction into our homes shows we do not even know a barbarian when the barbarian knocks on the door.

The Internet is the handmaiden of Satan: it is Satan’s most brilliant and effective tool, especially in combination with a free and liberal culture. To say so sounds radical and outlandish in our passive and permissive era. Yet so too did the Romans say of the early Christians that they were exaggerating: that Roman society had little to no need of reform.

Just like the early Christians it is time to realize that our environment is disintegrating perhaps to the point of no return: We need to build high walls and large fortresses to defend us: we need monasteries of learning and civilization—institutions, manners and morals that stand apart from the crowd. We need iron resolve—the resolve to throw out the computer if we cannot master it; the strength to structure the home according to our will and not that of the wider world.

A little blocker here and a little blocker there is simply not enough to resist the perils we face.

-Dr. Grace Vuoto is the Executive Director of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal. She can be reached at gvuoto@edmundburkeinstitute.org