Net prophets

In the distant heady days of yore when people believed that there might actually exist something greater than themselves - like God, for example - they were generally fairly petrified of doing wrong lest they spend the whole of eternity wallowing in the burning flames of hell. By contrast, the current fashion of worshipping at the altar of thyself, has created a world where nobody ever really worries their pretty little botoxed heads about the prospect of infinite raging infernal flames. Luckily for all concerned, this state of affairs leaves us all with a lot more free time to post our gurning selfies and photos of our plates of pie and chips because, as we all know, there isn't anywhere near enough of this kind of thing knocking about on the virtual ether.

Interestingly, whereas beforehand we would modify our behaviour because we were concerned that an almighty and omnipresent being might smite us across the chops by way of punishment at the very least, nowadays our greatest concern is that we may be caught on some bloke's camera while up to no good and, later, be publicly shamed on the net. That, in itself, is a kind of hell, I suppose, although nothing approaching eternal - more like a week or two at most, until the next poor unsuspecting sinner is locked in the virtual stocks of social media to be verbally abused and scorned at will by the uninformed masses.

Anyway, the end result of these two phases in history is much the same - whether it's the fear of God or the internet, people are forced to think twice before crossing the line in public (unless it's the feria in Malaga, of course, when such things are considered to be all part of the fun of the fair. Literally.)

To be honest, of the two, I think I prefer the fear of God option. At least in that example, people might drop to their knees in humility from time to time rather than filming themselves proudly on some bucket list mountain top somewhere, yearning desperately for recognition. Also, giving thanks for a meal before we eat it, must surely be infinitely preferable to slapping a photo of our grub on InstaChatFaceGram hoping that our choice of victuals might somehow increase our social status among people we barely know.

John Lennon caused quite a kerfuffle in the sixties by saying that The Beatles where bigger than Jesus. These days, if a global pop star dared to say a belief in God was more important than the internet it might cause a similar level of incredulity and outrage. Strange how times change.