If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?

~ Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland

11-19-12 @ Duncan Walker, courtesy of iStockphoto

Mad Hatter lived in a fantasy world known as Wonderland. In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the eccentric was loveable but odd nonetheless.

In Carroll’s satire, Mad Hatter’s role is a commentary on the consequences of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England. Carroll’s character can also serve as a warning to us who live in the current computer age.

  • Not all poisons are labeled with a skull-and-crossbones.

In the 1800s, hatters used mercury to cure felt in manufacturing hats. The constant inhalation of the caustic fumes led to mercury poisoning, producing irreversible neurological damages in the brain.

But no one understood this at the time.

It wasn’t until the twentieth century that researchers realized mercury’s impact on the human body. The link to Minamata Disease in the 1950s began to make the association more clear. A toxic chemical plant dumped tons of mercury into the waters off the coast of Japan, where the local diet featured the contaminated fish. Now, we discern the risks of eating seafood, in part, due to the effects that mercury poisoning had on these people.

  • The silent poison leads to memory impairment, emotional lability, and insomnia.

Thus, we see the odd behavior of the Mad Hatter who speaks gibberish. Poor Alice can’t decipher much of what he’s saying, leading to confusion and frustration for everyone. His responses and his actions are inappropriate. He’s bonkers, and we know it.

  • Mad Hatter murders time.

Time halts itself in the Hatter’s world. He’s stuck in the constant pleasure of  “Tea Time,” where even the teenage Alice recognizes the futility of such exercise. He’s lost all capacity to move on with his life. And he’s helpless to do anything about it.

  • Mad Hatter was a changed man – but not necessarily for the better.

Mad didn’t mean angry in Carroll’s time, for it derived from the Indo-European term, mei, which meant: changed. From this same base, mutate also originated.[1] The mercury had changed the hatter for the worst by mutating his brain function.

As pitiful as the Hatter was, there’s something more sinister affecting far more people than just the hatmakers. It’s something that’s invaded into every American home. And it’s causing issues with people’s memory, productivity, mood, and sleep.

  • What bane has already changed millions of us?

The technological advances of the computer age: social media, video gaming, and the video industries.[2] If we’re not careful, they could make us as mad as a hatter, for we live in a Mad Hatter wonderland where everything is at our fingertips. Where things aren’t always as they seem. Where even nonsense and untruths are heralded as truth.

Maybe the Mad Hatter got his wish after all.

The Bible warns us:

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…

~ Proverbs 23:7, KJV

I invite you to visit Dr. Dobson’s link to see what you think.


[1] (John Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990), 332.

[2] http://www.drjamesdobson.org/Broadcasts/Broadcast?i=dec0871a-45ad-46f9-93ee-20a6ec7d7560