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“You Have Been Assimilated”

February 22, 2007

I keep seeing people with these cell phone headsets that look like giant cockroaches over their ears. These people look like Borg units, except they are doing what normal people typically do: scope out bananas, hold up yarns to the mirror selecting the right color, read without moving their lips.

It’s nice to have your hands free, but with the phone mounted on your ear, you’re always “on.” I just figure these people must all have sick cats and are waiting for a call from their vet. The only reason I’d even my phone on and at hand would be if I were waiting for a call from my vet. But other than that, I don’t go through life waiting for calls.

In Star Trek, the Borg declaration of victory was “You have been assimilated.” The assimilatees had been compelled to enter the machine; their minds and bodies were one with the corporate mechanistic super-entity. We could tell because they had metal parts.

The difference between the Borg of Star Trek and modern Americans with cockroach headsets is that Americans volunteer to assimilate with the corporate mechanistic super-entity. Without this assimilation, I wonder whether they would feel “connected”–the new buzz word. To be wired is to belong, and to belong is to exist. And of course this implies autonomy, and autonomy ultimately implies that God is optional.

Even a church near my house has a sign out front: Get Connected! It smacks of the Borg to me. The mystical union of believers with Christ is not about connection; it is about spiritual unity believers enjoy with their Savior. But the church sign says nothing of Christ; it implies fellowship and connectedness with other people who need connection. I wonder if they give out free cell phones.

It is true that I have a few friends I consider very dear and very close whom I have not met in person. We live thousands of miles apart in different directions. We use the “Roman road” of online communication. We are Reformed Christians who share common bonds of faith and worship principles, encouragement and humor, and an interest in writing and blogging. We are all highly individualistic and Borg-resistant, but we are facile enough with computers to use them for our purposes, rather than vice versa. If push came to shove, we all own pens or typewriters and can still lick stamps.

I’m probably simply not properly socialized, but the idea of connection as a commercial commodity makes my skin crawl. I won’t buy, I won’t join, if connection is the advertised objective. Connection to a cell tower somewhere is fine; just don’t try to sell me a substitute for connection to creation.

I suspect connection is really one more futile attempt at reconnection. Man originally was connected to God, to the land, to the animals, to the seasons: he was master of the garden God gave him to tend, and Adam mastered the connections among the created beings with whom he shared the earth, which he demonstrated in naming them. Disconnected, if you will, by the Fall, has left men scurrying to reconnect to God, to fellow fallen humans, and to all of creation, through relentlessly advertised fallen means. Like Adam in his shame of sin, it all makes me want to hide out in the woods, in an impossibly green bamboo grove.

Somehow the cockroach headsets remind me of the mark of the Beast.
Singing the Psalms, reading the Bible, prayer, being in church–despite, sometimes, distractions of connectivity–are prescribed ways believers remain in the easy yoke of their Lord. The yoke of the Borg is hard and cold and heavy.

  1. February 22, 2007 1:48 pm

    I think about this a lot, especially in the city. People can mumble out loud on a street corner and nobody thinks twice–as long as they see that the speaker is wearing some connectivity device.

    I think you picked up on the underlying drive behind all this. There is nothing wrong with connecting with other fellow creatures. But the advertised connectivity seems so shallow. A meter is placed in the conduit. In our sin we still want to be connected to something, but, even more, we pay to be distracted.

  2. February 22, 2007 1:57 pm

    Yes, and now someone who knows me is going to read this and see me out somewhere with my iPod, and hiss “aha!” And of course the iPod distracts me from the ubiquitous distractions when I must be in their midst. We pay and pay, but the protection never comes.

  3. Laura permalink
    February 22, 2007 4:19 pm

    An “assimilated” woman holding a huge baby came to the florist today. I wanted to ask her if she didn’t have enough going on *around* her, or what. . .

    For me, the question of being ever more connected in any of the proposed ways boils down to the difficulty of being heavenly-minded as it is. It’s like the world’s counterattack to the prescriptions of Deuteronomy 6: putting the world’s principles, or just its current events, as frontlets between our eyes. Or keeping the duties of connectivity ever in mind (checking the phone to see if you just happened to have missed a call in the three minutes spent in the bathroom, etc.), which displaces things that shouldn’t even have to share brainspace with those.

    Thank you for exposing another area of worldliness to work on.

  4. McBlog permalink
    February 24, 2007 4:37 pm

    I think that a lady carrying a huge baby has as good excuse as any for the ugly (hands free) blue-tooth. Although it really is just bad taste. I can think of a few times when it would have come in handy. But, whatever.

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