The Las Vegas moment

There is a Las Vegas moment in every culture, when the electricity goes on. It represents exactly what the real Las Vegas means in the West: it is a space where you can throw off the fetters of traditional morality and values, where you can gamble and fornicate. You can indulge yourself in secret, and then sneak home to respectability. This Las Vegas of big neon lights and modern temptations that appears in every culture is something the elders and preservers of morality cannot police, because its power lies outside their understanding. This contact with modernity is a death blow to their ancient culture and the old ways of life.

Culture is accumulated human experience, an anatomy of obstacles and techniques for overcoming them. Traditional culture breaks down once that first contact with modernity is made. For next comes the radio, the TV, and the washing machine; then a rush of neon lights, cell phones, and new roads, all of which usurp the stories of the grandmothers and the elders, stories that used to hold communities together.

[..] Modernity is not a controlled zone that you can visit and then leave, then return and ask for forgiveness. Modernity is a permanent state that replaces your former outlook. You can try to fight it, but it is irresistible. It sucks in your young.

– Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nomad

(And, of course, the internet is to the city what the city was to rural life.)

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