virginia_heffernan's picture
Columnist, The New York Times Magazine; Editorial Director, West Studios; Author, Magic and Loss
There Is Nothing To Worry About, And There Never Was

We have nothing to worry about but worry itself. This has always been true.

Marshall McLuhan said that "electric circuitry is Orientalizing the West." Let's hope that the Internet finishes that job any day now. Its next move is clearly to abolish the ghastly Western idée fixe that even a pixel of freedom or insight is gained in the miserable practice of worrying, in the chronic braincell-bruising overexercise of our lizard impulses to fight or flee.

Networked computing and digital experience has decentralized the self. It has found the hallucinatory splendor in the present moment. It has underscored our fundamental interdependence.

And in its gentle way it has also satirized the stubborn Western notion of separation. The digital revolution—with all its holy artifacts—has made manifest, jubilant and even profitable the vision of the Buddha and Shakespeare and Wordsworth and all the world's mystics, two-bit and Stanford-chaired alike: We are one. Limiting beliefs about the past and the future destroy our lives. Only mindful acceptance of present reality can bring peace and inspire wise action.

So build a bomb shelter. Send money to people who lack it. Triple-encrypt and judiciously backup every J. Crew promotional email you receive, lest Internet terrorism befall us. Hustle to keep your kids on or off the Internet, eating organic or local or nothing at all. Take these actions, or none. Just don't worry about them. There is nothing to worry about, and there never was.