With the emergence of social media and the vast web of invisibly connected lines, torrents of information blasting across the night-time sky, the civilised world has become what it feared the most: a hive-mind, a particular constellation of integrated skills, some prone to self-distribution and displaying exactly the portion of human narcissism which one could have expected to surface at the introduction of a medium such as the computer; others shuffle their deck of cards and play a game of mind and heart, utilising the spider-web for what it is potentially worth: justification and sublime distribution of knowledge, expanding their intelligence and wisdom, learning and at the same time teaching, while every act they complete is a new lesson to the less skilled follower; some lurk in the dark, and hide, and let those easily awed articulate their astonishment – or dislike – towards the intelligent spiders who work tirelessly. The last category I find just as justifiable as the two others, whether you chose to stand by and watch knowing that you have skills to match the intelligent and that your ego would thrive in the celebratory reverberations following your successful conquest of the web, or whether you acknowledge that you are no match for such mastodons and that you are better left alone, introvert and incapable, in cyberspace as well as in life.
Because cyberspace is manifest. It is ethereal, a real illusion. It is its own contradiction in the very essence of the word. The real world is dimmed by the immenseness of this structure, this construction of diffuse niches and rooms, with a surface net and a darknet, both consisting of user-generated content, whether decipherable easily or not. We receive the key by connecting, we unlock and open the door by staring up a browser, and we enter the different rooms of the cyber-house via the addresses we gain access to. Search engines are our maps, forums and message boards our dinner tables or book clubs. What we acquire through the internet to fill into our material homes soon become less valuable as we plunge into the depths of the web, some closer to the middle than others.
And all the while, the world keeps spinning, the sun is ablaze and the grass is green beneath the snow.
Humanity has become a hive-mind, sharing, liking and reflecting upon itself; a vanity mirror of actions, reactions and knowledge-enhancement. Self-realization becomes modest, at best, while our minds go blank with the steady, endless stream of connectivity. We disembody ourselves from ourselves and into a greater constellation of minds, forgetting our physical self and everything we used to strive towards in the past. For the past is what makes us; our history makes us.
For what is our present history? Wars are no longer fought by men but machines, human interaction has stalled and become virtual reality with avatars representing our ‘selves’, faces made up, drawn or even animals, flowers or imaginary beasts. Our browser history is what concerns us, our cyber-trail of steps across the spider-web. We interpret into that our own interests and either hide or display who we are through communicating our thoughts, black fonts of white, blank slates of web-pages, editable and customisable to portray our ‘selves’. We live in a virtual collective, socialising and connecting on a daily basis, so much that it can engulf us entirely.
And all the while, the world comes to a halt, the sun is gone, and the grass has withered beneath the ashen snow.