Exactly what will happen if or when I unplug from the alien mother-board of American social media and drift off into the vacuum of permanent cyber exile? Will I cease to exist? Will I fall like a stone straight down into a black chasm of obsolescence – forgotten and adrift on a barge to nowhere?
How will I fill the void in my life? What will I do to slake the anxiety that rises in the dragging minutes between checking to see if I still exist (according to the whims of total strangers and a few benevolent friends)?
Will my virtual death hurt? Will it be a slow and agonising struggle or will I be gone in the blink of DELETE?
I can still remember – vaguely – the way I felt before facebook and instagram and twitter and youtube and…. all those other information harvesters were installed and swallowed whole.
Back in those good ol’ days, I got to decide if I was real and exactly what I cared about and how much time I wanted to allocate to anything before I felt restless or bored and ran outside to play. I walked around a lot more. I played a lot more. I touched a lot more and I laughed a LOT more. In nature and with animals. With friends. With lovers. With family.
People gathered happily in the same rooms with each other. We walked or rode or drove or hitch-hiked and even flew to see each other, face-to-face with real stuff in our hands. Real stuff. We stopped at the bridge halfway there to look down into the creek to see if the recent rains had turned the stream into a rushing cascade of cool clear water. We tore the paper off the top of our shared bags of hot chips to let the steam escape as we meandered along. We dangled our legs over the edges of life as we made plans and we kissed and arm-wrestled and sang and ran and we laughed – with each other. Screen-free, we looked up at the sky to decide when it was time to move on or head home.
Parties happened too. Paper invitations and weirdly personal phone calls – we spoke to each other. Community had a smell to it. Food and perfume and sweat and live music and raw physical intimacy.
Now I feel drained and devitalised and anxious and mustered into a malevolent trap. What will happen if I pull the pin?
I’m real… aren’t I?