Thursday, April 19, 2012

I don't exist.

In the digital world, nothing has shape. nothing has permanence. Nothing has value.  Money changes hands, surely.  But money always changes hands.

How many digital files do you own? With how many have you interacted recently?  How many songs or photos sit on some drive somewhere collecting the digital equivalent of cobwebs, their electrons trying to maintain order, to maintain bonds and fighting against inevitable dispersal.  Would you notice if some were lost?

In every generation prior whatever the most recent two are, people collected objects.  Some were photos.  They held those photos as precious.  They were memory; they were family; they were part of their lives.

Some of those objects were books.

But now we have files.  And I don't know anyone who prints out photos, anymore.  I haven't for 6 years.  Without some form of computer, the last six years of my life don't even exist.

Yes, all my files are on a computer or online, somewhere.  But without permission, a password, most of them remain hidden.  I try to store some of my stuff under "effinglibrarian" accounts, but I have lots of accounts under various usernames.  If I were to bump my head and develop amnesia or die, would anyone ever learn who I was?  I don't have scrapbooks with photos of my trips to ... see? I can't even rememeber without finding the folders with the files.

Without account names and passwords, there is nothing to find.  I will disappear. 

Physical objects are a burden. Books are a burden.  And we only have towns and cities because of our burdens.  In the old days, people walked until they got tired, then when enough people got tired in the same place, someone put up a shop or a shrine.  And that's why we have cities.  Without your burdens, you just wander as nomads.  The internet is turning us into nomads.

A printed book never judges you back.  It's static; it can't.  But an ebook can, and will.  An ebook will tell you whether you read too slowly or too quickly.  An ebook might make you reread something until it's convinced you got it.  An ebook will compare you to others who have read it.  If you need to look up a word, the dictionary will tell you that only 4% of other readers needed to look that up: What the fuck is wrong with you?

Every footprint you leave online is something said for or against your nature.  Every statement, update or comment you make can become corrupted under the unforgiving all-seeing eye of internet trolls and anonymous ridicule.

The internet is changing me.  And I don't know who I am becoming.  Because I don't have physical objects, I don't have a past.  Because I have so many online identities, I don't have a present.  And because I don't have anyone to care for my files after I'm gone, I don't have a future.  I am nothing.

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