Ban TikTok? The app is just a symptom

By Paul Blanchfield

As a bill to ban or regulate the ubiquitous, massively popular TikTok app moves through Congress, many arguments for and against such an action are being bandied about. All the usual pundits are airing their take on the issue: TikTok is a surveillance tool of the Chinese Communist Party, fiendishly designed to be as addictive as any drug. American youth are having their political views and in fact their entire worldview fed to them by Tik Tok, invisibly controlled by the puppet-masters in Beijing to let them make American citizens obedient drones of the CCP, enabling it to eventually take over America without firing a shot.

No, others say, our own U.S. government is a greater threat than the CCP, as it seeks total control over what its own American citizens can view and read. Banning it will only drive hundreds of millions of them to Facebook and Google, which are already compliant lapdogs of the government, censoring anything the feds doesn’t want to be seen.

What I don’t hear is the deep, searching, urgent conversations that should be happening around identifying the much deeper cause of the public fascination with TikTok, Google, Facebook.

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A number of years ago when video games were becoming the next big thing to keep Americans from doing anything productive, one commentator said, “America is driving itself silly.” It was, and it’s only gotten worse since then. The real question to focus on is how in the world did we as a society get so spiritually hollowed out that we can be addicted to watching people jerk about like demented chickens, no matter how clever the algorithms might be.

Congresspersons’ phones are ringing non-stop because TikTok rubbed their addicted users’ noses in their own pathetic need by refusing them access until they caved to TikTok’s command to call their congressperson’s office and urge them to protect the app. It doesn’t get more more humiliating than that, yet hordes of young people are so dependent that they rushed to comply.

On a plane shortly after the 2016 election I sat next to a U.S. Army officer who was engaged in research on the extent of Russia’s use of internet bots to influence the election. He was very upset that the villainous Russians would do such a dastardly deed. I asked him if the research had determined whether the bots had actually changed any votes. He replied they had not been able to determine that yet, but it was deeply concerning that the Russians were trying. Yet, in and of itself, that should be no more than a mild annoyance about their clogging up internet bandwidth with their nonsense.

The possibility that Americans could be influenced by Russian bots, that Americans had failed so miserably in the basic responsibility of citizenship to keep themselves informed on what’s going on in the world, that they would be so bereft of critical thinking skills and basic moral foundations that they could be influenced by and take their political views from Russian bots really is something to be deeply concerned about. Citizens spending their time watching drivel rather than reading the wealth of information available on the internet that could help them form educated, rational world and political views (should they have the critical thinking ability to evaluate it) is frightening.

Banning TikTok and figuring out how to thwart Russian bots is like focusing on finding an effective headache medicine when the headache is being caused by a brain tumor. It will never solve the problems at the root of our national malaise because the causes are spiritual. America has walked away from the respect for God and biblical principles that made it great, creating a spiritual vacuum. “Nature abhors a vacuum” is borne out by America’s descent into digital addiction and terminal foolishness. People will seek to fill the void within – it’s human nature. This makes them the lawful prey of psychological addiction experts who design these apps to drop toxic, addictive morsels into the cheeping mouths of spiritually infantile baby birds desperately seeking something to satisfy their deep need for meaning and purpose and distract them from the pain of lives that have none.

Just as a hiker who loses his trail in the mountains must first realize he is lost and then focus on finding the trail again before he can make any further progress toward the peak, America must regain its respect for God and His design for humanity in order to restore meaning and purpose to their lives. If we do that, neither TikTok nor Russian bots need concern us.

Paul Blanchfield is a real estate developer who writes on spiritual, geopolitical and cultural issues.

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