It was not the intention
But we let it all go
Well, it messed up the function
And sure fucked up the flow
I hardly have people that I needed to know
‘Cause you’re the people that I wanted to know
—Modest Mouse, People as Places as People
It’s hard to be open. Especially when I tap the glass of convention with a hard hello. Especially because I often tilt sun-warmed rocks and say, “Look, it’s dark under here.” Everyone wants a feelgood. I inspire doubt. I punch darlings. My thoughts, middle fingers of defiance.
There are hard paths I want to take, parts of me that I want to nurture, Big Things I want to choose. But dammit, there’s so many distractions, escapes. It’s a whack-a-pleasure world and the arcade is on fire.
Awareness is a bitch. There’s layers, a sea both deep and shallow. Everywhere there is a reflection…a connect-the-dots of inconvenient truths. Our clever constructs of metal and mind reveal our fear.
I claim no high ground or special wisdom. We’re all dancing. But I wonder if you see where we’ve steered too. I wonder if you notice the duality of how we wield our potential, our gobsmacking ingenuity. We are ego-stroked by each new high we achieve to perfect the art of eating our own tail. The irony is neutron star dense.
I wonder. I wonder about destiny and choice. I wonder about you.
I abandoned cable television seven years ago. Now when I’m exposed to it, it is surreal. The commercials. The news. The regurgitated storylines. It’s all spectacle. Attract and distract.
The Internets filled the void, especially social media, which conveniently sprouted at the time of my divorce and ensuing avalanche of loss. It filled my many holes of empty. But what I’ve come to realize is it’s just an hollow can of noise. Incessant bells and whistles and cries and shouts. A circle jerk of soapboxes. Selfies. Click bait. Posturing. Hustling. Snark. Arguing. Arguing.
The fucking arguing.
I’ve participated earnestly, addictively, in the electronic bukkake. I’ve played all the roles and I don’t feel better for the effort. When I think of the time I’ve invested in Facebook alone my stomach and conscience perform synchronized churning. I could have built a pyramid or written an epic novel instead. When I admit I’ve chosen digital over analog, shame washes in.
Its easily wielded power leads to a slow hazing of awareness. Entertainment infects information. Reaction swallows reason. Instant gratification murders intention. Always the answer is more bandwidth—more lanes to feed the streaming sprawl of disconnection to the hungry ghost within each of us.
As with the automobile, so is the Internet.
You can’t forget the kinetic danger of tons of steel and plastic ripping past while riding a bike on a road. You can’t ignore the roadkill. There’s no tinted glass or synthetic air freshener to shield yourself from the intimate scent of death. The unending logo-stamped garbage decorating each side of the blacktop isn’t blurred into nonexistence by cylinders and pistons.
Here, a squirrel, a dog. There, a Starbucks cup, a grocery bag, the shattered remains of a Bud Light bottle.
The bloated body of a cat lying in the bike lane could be a stuffed toy. But pedaling up on a full grown deer that has been ripped in half, its near-to-term calf staring dead-eyed through the mother’s entrails is something else. It’s a knife to the mind.
No soothing denial. No ignorance. No unseeing.
The devil is in the convenience. We lose respect for place. We choose pixels over the person standing next to us. We become “friends” with someone seas away but don’t say hello to the person walking by. We behave in ways we’d never dare in person because we can hide from consequence in the disconnection.
We’re blind to the accumulative effect. As our actions cheapen our humanity dims.
Life is experienced in the struggle, not the ease. Growth requires a met challenge. I know. I spent a good chunk of my life choosing easy and it didn’t work. The pain of wisdom is why I quit social media. It’s not true. It’s a hollow distraction, emotional masturbation.
Twitter deleted. Instagram too. Linkedin, Goodreads, Scribd, Tumblr, Pinterest, all gone.
I deactivated Facebook, giving myself a month to see how I would feel. When I came back I quickly fell into the same patterns. I created an anonymous account to be the admin for my author page and deactivated my personal page again.
Deactivation is not deletion though. Part of me doesn’t want to let go. It’s the comfort of the option, I guess. If I don’t have the option of this escape what was sacrificed to the info-ether becomes undeniable. I can’t create emotional destinations without the messy investment required by flesh. People as places as people.
The “likes,” the “follows,” the rants and the snark…all just a fix. Without it there’s just four walls, a bed and a laptop. Just me and the internal slam-dance. Just me and the big things, the real things.
I’ve reached through the computer screen at times out of sheer rebellion. I’ve traveled thousands of miles just to look into another’s eyes. I want to see them. The real them. They are always different, deeper. So am I. Bubbles of perception and projection pop. What remains is human.
It’s not convenient.