For the last couple of years I’ve done a workshop for our homeschool support group on preparing your child to launch. The parents who attend have kids in high school, and the most common topic has not been how to get kids into college. It’s been about issues of parental authority with young adults at home.
If you constantly recite the “My house, my rules!” lecture to your 18 year old, that horse has probably left the corral and is roaming the plains of Montana.
This is a sensitive topic, and parents in my Preparing to Launch Workshop expect me to give them long, complex answers to their questions, with a “How To” checklist. However, in one form or another, my answer is almost always “Communication.”
Just about everybody complains about the quality of discourse on the Internet. In my experience, it isn’t much worse than the quality of discourse most other places—with one important exception. Foolishness of the verbal variety has always required cheap and easy forms of communication in order to really thrive. The talk of fools is not merely ignorant but impulsive, spontaneous. So, for centuries, the cost of publishing has been a mitigating factor, filtering much of the worst sort of foolishness out of the world of the written word. Printed error tended to at least be thoughtful error.
But decades of steadily-improving Internet technology have changed all that. Now any idiot who can click a mouse can publish his insights for the eyes of millions at the cost of pocket change. And since the Web also facilitates rapid interaction (of the sort previously limited to conversation), fools can now speak or write their minds (Prov.18:2) at each other at a rate, and with a passion (Prov. 12:16), previously undreamt of.1
So it’s probably fair to say: there’s no foolishness like Internet foolishness.