I can’t help but laugh when I reminisce of the days when internet was a sacred luxury. When those fifteen minutes on CompuServe were simply the greatest fifteen moments of my life. Correction- greatest ten and a half moments. Since I had to deduct the four and a half minutes it took for the computer to suffer a seizure, while emitting nightmarish sounds I could only assume to be aliens invading cyberspace.
It’s safe to say we’ve evolved a great deal since then. Our computers have been cured of the convulsions, we’re getting our full fifteen minutes of Tetris and we’re Skyping with people across the country. We can fold the entire world wide freaking web into the back pocket of our jeans. For God's sake.
But we’re not impressed. We’re not wowed or enchanted. This is life as we know it. We can’t imagine the world any other way. No, we won't imagine the world any other way. We’ve been shocked into a syndrome where if it’s not nano, it’s colossal, and if it’s not high speed, it’s painstakingly slow. Email is the new letter, text is the new phone call and writing on the wall is the new Hallmark card.
We’re all so wrapped up in cyberspace that we’ve actually built ourselves a home inside it. I live at 212 Exeter Rd but you’ll reach me far sooner if you go to my address in Cyberspace; My Name @ Facebook.com. Leave me a message in my inbox, send me a virtual holiday card, graffiti my wall. You’re invited to my home any old time you’d like sans the polite knock. Flip through my photo albums for your entertainment and should you still feel bored, my journal is available for midday reading. It’s labeled “Notes” if you’d like to leave your comments on the intimate details of my life.
Pull down the Info. tab and you’ll learn that my hobbies are shopping, dancing, and riding rollercoasters. I have green eyes and black hair.
But the more I think about it, the more I have to wonder, is that really me? Is that all? One picture frozen in time, that stares at my 312 friends and begs them to confirm my existence? Are we all so truly single faceted that we can condense all eighteen or so years of our lives into two paragraphs titled, “About Me”?
Has life really become a competition to see who has more Facebook friends or whose life out-parties the rest? Have we all become Snow White’s evil stepmother, peering into our computer screen demanding, “Is my profile the fairest of them all?” Has it come to the point where we actually need the confirmation of our peers to tell us we’re good enough?
Living in an alternate universe where our birthday gifts can be copied and pasted, an irritating friend can be deleted with just a swift click of the mouse, and our knowledge of current events comes from a place called “News Feed”, begs the question:
Are we, in the innocent name of socializing, ultimately losing touch with what really makes us click?
It’s almost as if we’ve built the past few years of our lives on something that we can fit into our purse. We’ve stored away feelings in folders, friends in web pages, and memories in boxes. We’ve forgotten that our identities are not marked by the way others see us but by the way we see ourselves. We’ve forgotten that the person who looks back at us from the bright LCD monitor is not the real us but a pretense that parades around with our face. And we’ve forgotten that Cyberspace is a galaxy far from Reality.
Oh sure we’ve been warned about sites like Facebook. Of the stalkers and predators and gross old creeps. Yes, the dangers of Facebook have been relayed to tops of heads and eyes rolled so far backward, they’re counting the cells in their brains. These alarms have been playing in our heads for so long that we’ve never contemplated the possibility of a more profound variety of danger. A type of danger that threatens that part of us that no Norton or firewall can protect. And if we’d take the time to consider the parts of ourselves we’ve sacrificed in the name of “socializing”, we’d come to appreciate the real danger in association with cyberspace’s parallel universe; the predators that steal our souls without us so much as noticing.
So notice this: When stalking your colleagues, chatting with friends, and posting your Israel pics, bear in mind: Comments are just comments. Pictures don’t have mouths. And you don’t get to keep the virtual gifts you get for your birthday. Facebook is not real life. And really any place where you can throw a sheep at someone ought not to be taken too seriously.
Log out, click back to reality.