" . . . despite the obvious reality that it is, by its very nature, diminishing the users’ grasp on reality." Which (for the benefit of readers who were not there) was the second half of my talk ("Virtual Realities") at the 2011 meeting of the John Randolph Club. (Readers can purchase a CD of that talk, and of the other talks from that meeting, by calling (800) 383-0680.)
Few technologies (and I'm using that term loosely here, because I think that social media doesn't really deserve that title) are wholly evil, though I am willing to stipulate that, on a continuum from fire, the lever, and the wheel (the relatively good) to nuclear energy (the relatively evil), the entire computer revolution sits very close to the latter. But, as you've suggested, Tom, we have to use the tools we have if we wish "to survive in an increasingly inhuman world." The Amish option is not an option.
I'm well aware of the world we have lost. My little village, in the 1970's and early 1980's, was easily 25 to 30 years behind the times. Little divorce, no crime, solid schools, many families living in the same area for multiple generations, neighbors on porches, concerts on summer evenings, local sporting events that were true community activities . . . I was blessed to have a childhood that my children never could.
"For the most part, the world is gone." Indeed—even in my hometown. And we can shrug our shoulders and curse our fate, or we can work—as readers will see in the issues you have planned for Chronicles over the next year—to remind others of what we have lost, and work to restore some part of it. Even if we have to use such tools as Facebook.