We move through our lives, in the main, not thinking about the footsteps we are leaving behind.
Yet, those footsteps are the essential basis of accountability for each of us.
And, if the sands of time obliterate those footsteps too rapidly, society’s ability to hold us accountable for things we have done – good or bad — is also obliterated.
Today, the sands have taken on new dimensions in time, tide and recapture.
On the one hand, the internet and its instantaneous avalanche of interpersonal and impersonal communications has created mountainous new amounts of information about billions of humans who previously had not left any noticeable traces anywhere.
And, on the other hand, that very volume of information has buried critical information about people, whose lives matter a lot to society at large, under a mountain of meaningless prattle, so that it has become increasingly difficult to have adequate accountability to protect society at large from clever, good or bad, actors.
At the core of that problem is the difference between human (actual person-to-person) and digital interaction.
As digital interaction increases, human interaction suffers.
The word ‘credibility’ has always leaned heavily on expressions—eyes, smiles, frowns, and other body language. Digital interaction lacks such subtlety, providing very little basis for other humans to judge the credibility of the humans behind the screens.
Perhaps part of Trump’s questionable genius lies in his intuitive grasp of how to escape the consequences of his thousands of outright lies that have captured and held his loyalists.
Changes in the processes of human communication and interaction are, of course, not new. The digital process is surely as revolutionary, or more so, than the scope of the revolution set off by the origins of printing, or the invention of the telegraph.
Way back in time, for example, in Egypt, if you wanted to find a stranger you followed what you thought were the footprints of his camel which was a stranger to the footprints of your flock of camels.
If we hope to overcome the anonymity of the digital world, we will have to master all these footprints in the sands of time!