The Elevator Operators
The seal which once separated the elite from the rest of us has been irreparably broken. When the moat was crossed and the castle gates breached, in rushed not just hordes of the unwashed, but also the fresh air of information and events — good, bad and indifferent — more information than any one person or group could manage or contain.
Information driven by technology has been atomized and dispersed: it is carried by the wind through the all-pervasive cell phone, 24/7 broadcasting, and the ethereal net. No one who wants to know (and many who do not) is any longer beyond the reach of “events,” however the news is defined. With each new upgrade in communication gadgetry, and with a geometric increase in the gadgets themselves, comes a corresponding decrease in the cost of dispersing information. The old guard sneers about the new democratization of knowledge, calling it degraded; the young Turks don’t hear — they’re listening with headphones in place.
It is now impossible to build a wall high enough to keep out what is carried in on the air. Egypt, which had to await Napoleon’s intrusion in 1798 to get Gutenberg’s invention, grows restive in this new atmosphere. Iran refused to let a printing press into the country until the end of the 19th century; with cell phones and bloggers all over the country, it is now reaping the whirlwind. Gutenberg’s ghost is dancing in dust devils swirling in the streets of Tehran.
Never before have so many had access to so much information. Formerly dispensed in packets, as though too much at once would purge the body politic of all sense, the news is taken in great draughts, crowds are giddy with euphoria. The gatekeepers, those dispensers of what ought be known — whether the MSM, the mandarins in academe and government, or the American Medical Association — are faced with the loss of security in this tumult. To a large extent, everyone can now do for themselves what they formerly had to wait upon for the “experts.”
It is to be expected that drastic changes in their standing and fortune cause howls and disbelief among the elites as the storm descends. Some have been swept overboard, some carried out to sea, some cling to life rafts as they drift over the horizon. Will there be anyone left?
Yes, indeed. But it’s all open to question, to second (and third and fourth) opinions, to suspicion about motives and agendas. Those who understand will adapt; their changes will be seen as humility. Some few will find the integrity and grace to transcend their former limits.
Translation: don’t write off Hillary Clinton based on what she said before the Iraqi elections. Pay attention only to what she says from this point forward. But pay meticulous attention nonetheless. Much more scrutiny is required than would be the case for someone with an established reputation for being able to spot the small ship on the edge of vision. Let her get her sea legs before deciding what she can do.
Meanwhile, what do you think happened to all the elevator operators?