August 23rd, 2014| Topic: RaMbLeS | 3


Walter Isaacson wrote an article for TIME recently. Mr. Isaacson, who worked for the magazine once, as its managing editor, and as CEO fro CNN, is now president of Aspen Institute, a non-partisan thinktank in Washington, DC. He is the acclaimed author of Steve Jobs (2011), as well as biographies of Einstein, Ben Franklin, and Henry Kissinger.

Mr. Isaacson’s recent article is about your shoulder. Yup, your shoulder. And how someone is looking over it. Over your shoulder. Watchin’ what you’re doin’. And … it’s all good!

The long and short of that article is this: If you know someone is looking over your shoulder at what you do, you’ll do it better.

Actually, Walter Isaacson was talking about being reviewed by those around us and how that improves one’s behavior.

Uber, the cool taxi service has got it right. Passengers rate their drivers. And drivers turn out to be at their best. And guess what? We find that drivers rate their passengers. Well, that’s not as creepy as it sounds. Yes, you’ve lost your anonymity as Uber’s drivers rate you, the passenger. But—again!—guess what?

Once you know you’re being rated, just like the driver, you’re likely to be a bit nicer, sit in the front, and make conversation. The world becomes slightly more civil.”

It’s rather obvious, isn’t it? The tendency for us humans is—if we know we’ll never be caught or called on it—to behave like brats, brutes, and barbarians (or worse!).

Mr. Isaacson makes the case that privacy is not the same as anonymity. One is to be valued; the other, may be not. In fact, anonymity was unknown until the recent years when urbanization occurred. If you lived in a village, there was no such thing as anonymity. It just didn’t exist. Everybody and their brother knew what you were up to, when you got home, whom you were dating, etc., etc.

Massive urbanization has made us anonymous. We can do what we want without anyone knowing. And … because of the internet, we can say what we want without anyone figuring who we are.

And that has been detrimental to civic discourse, saith Mr. Isaacson. He wishes he could find out and publicly reveal the names and addresses of all people who anonymously post vulgar rants and racist tweets.

I would use it only sparingly, but I suspect that just a few such revelations would make the Twittersphere and Blogosphere suddenly a bit more civil, or at least subdued. … Likewise, if we all thought we were subject to being rated, we might work harder to be on our best behavior. In the world of Yelp and TripAdvisor and HealthGrades, we get to rate our restaurants and hotels and doctors. I hope that expands. College students rate their professors in many places. … In the sauce-for-the-gander category, if teachers and waiters and hotels were all rating us, it might feel a bit Orwellian.”

But think of how better we might behave, because someone is looking over our shoulders.

Well, Someone is!

The eyes of the LORD are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.
Proverbs 15:3

And we will have to give an account for our thoughts …

The Lord … will disclose the motives of hearts;
and then each person’s praise will come to him from God.
1 Corinthians 4:5

Our words …

“Every careless word that people speak,
they shall give an accounting for it.”
Matthew 12:36

And our deeds …

… God … will render to each person according to his deeds.
Romans 2:5–6

Over our shoulders, we’re being rated … by God!


  1. Luc Ladry September 2, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Again, a case of the anonymity of electronic messaging … de-responsibilizing our being. Yes, indeed, we all need good friends with whom we could have good talks.
    This electronic anonymity, I feel, is beastly… taking us lower and lower….
    Thanks for those thoughts, nourishing our reflections as we all have to grow in christian love. That for which the Lord is watching over our shoulder.
    Luc Ladry.

  2. Tina Mathew August 26, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23,24

    I sincerely believe that if and when we work for our Lord and Master, which should be always, we’ll do a job that no one can fault find because work appreciated by Him is perfect work. The question is: Do we remember that everything we do is for Him?


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