Telephony v. Telepathy
Reinventing Ma Bell

Gosh, there sure are a lot of wires out there.  When we get to heaven, we will all have cell phones.  But wouldn’t it be easier just to use mental telepathy?  There would be no more busy signals and answering machines.  But what about privacy?  Come to think of it, there might have to be answering machines in heaven.  But aren’t each of us actually an answering machine for God?  So when does God pick up all the messages?

If I am a lineman for the county should I be worrying about the new telepathic order?  When will we switch to the big fiber in the sky?  Frankly, I would rather have a web site than be a web site.  Can’t I at least charge admission to my own mind?  Besides, what would I be doing if I weren’t sitting here typing and listening to my FM card?  If I weren’t doing this I would be out riding the line, and we might all be better off.

Each of us will have to have security levels for our thoughts.  And we will have to contend with the mind hackers.  Copper wire sounds better all the time.  What about two cans and a string?

The new telepathic order might be like being inebriated at a cocktail party and spilling one’s guts to strangers.  If that is the cost then where is the benefit?  Will there be caller ID?  Clearly there will have to be a higher level of telepathic netiquette.

On the other hand, things could get hostile.  There could develop tribal telepathic enclaves, or covens, where psychic encroachments would be dealt with severely.  There seems to be a lot of this going around already, and much of it may be unwitting.

There would be opportunity for the formation of many novel social structures based on new patterns of communication and production.  Not all of these structures would be readily compatible.  We have spoken before about the prospect of separation.  That would have to be handled gingerly if it were not to degenerate into open hostility.  Too many people already anticipate a spiritual Armageddon.

Perhaps the Internet is a God given opportunity to work out the bugs and the new alignments in cyberspace before any further implementation of psispace.

It is the alleged objectivity and absoluteness of the space-time manifold that undergirds our personal identity.  Any phenomena that appear to violate the sanctity of that manifold will likewise threaten our personal identity.  Such ideas are about as welcome in our modern society as would be a communist cell at the American Enterprise Institute.  This is not to be politically inflammatory, but rather to use a fictional analogy to illustrate the self-censorship that in turn undergirds the ‘objectivity’ of scientific materialism.

Modern society thrives on the creation and maintenance of artificial boundaries.  Just ask your neighborhood lawyer.  Telepathy puts every one of those boundaries in jeopardy.  People reacting to that newfound personal vulnerability will likely overreact in ways that will be socially pathological.  We run the risk of a sudden precipitation in a saturated solution.

One can hear it now: ‘better dead that immaterial.’  ‘Better dead in the flesh than alive in the spirit.’  Think upon these sentiments the next time you pick up a copy of the ‘Skeptical Inquirer.’

The beauty of the telephone was that it reinforced the illusion of separation at the same time that it transcended it.  Think of the telegraph line strung over the vast stretches of desert.  With the Internet, that vast copper skeleton is beginning to implode under its own weight.  Cyberspace takes on a life of its own.  It pushes us over the event horizon of the eschaton.  Telepathy will just be a stowaway on that night flight.


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rev. 1/31/99