What happens when the future gets old? What happens when the hot newness of the bleeding age gathers rust and accumulates the barnacles of time?
A friend of mine passed away last year. Someone I’d known for over 25 years. Despite many years without seeing each other in person, we had a regular online cadence. It’s pretty likely this is a situation that might be familiar to you. These people, in your orbit, whose posts, likes, shares, and comments become part of the digital tapestry of your modern (trademark pending) life.
Facebook serves these tapestry threads back up to in the form of memories, fully productized as Facebook Memories, proper noun. It’s a strange sensation seeing the name of those no longer here, liking and commenting over things as inane as movie reviews to things as immeasurably meaningful like children, spouses, family, and other life stuff.
There they are. Ghosts in the machine. Gone, but forever haunting our timelines in a kind of arrested state. Profiles forever on hiatus.
We’re marching towards two decades of Facebook and Twitter. And the scar tissue is building up. I wonder what these bizarre Internet journals and scrapbooks we’ve all been keeping together look like 20 more years from now? Digital graveyards, a kaleidoscope of IMAX ticket stubs and Indian food and birthdays and awards ceremonies and births and funerals and snarky comments on the weather. Life, death, and every little scrap in between.
It’s been a weird kind of unexpected sprawling growth, this social media thing. The tendrils of an awkward and clumsy digital age now grown thick, like ivy on a wall. In retrospect, we had no idea what we were doing, did we? The drip drip drip of digital posts feeding a hybrid online forum/accidental psyop/pretty hate machine/glorified classified ad to the point of Akira-like critical mass. We’ve all been a bunch of Seymours, feeding our lifeblood to a silicon Audrey II. Today your love, tomorrow the world.
I miss my friends, and dislike the cold finality of their continued absence from the present (can we downvote death?). I guess I can only hope that my last post on your feed isn’t something stupid like complaining about the amount of peanuts on my order of kung pao chicken. But if it is, just keep scrolling. We’ve learned to master that.