What’s the difference between a human and a tree? Well, frankly, I don’t know: at least not by looking at the manner in which we act around each of these objects. I mean: don’t you notice that most of us, whenever we cross another person’s path, whether this is on the street or in the park, just plainly ignore him? That while you are walking the dog, and there is no-one but you, the dog and the person you pass by, that you don’t even make the effort to say hello; not even to watch the other person in the eyes? What is going on here? Where did it all go wrong?
I might be exaggerating, but if so that is because I find this to be a very sad observation of the way our society appears to function. I find it sad that we as a species are too drowned in our own little worlds to open our mouths or eyes to validate the existence of a fellow species member. That we rather send an extra WhatsApp message, than that we nod generously to the old lady living next door.
But the truth of the matter is that we are all living on our own little islands. We are living in our own little worlds, and it is within these little worlds that we are king. And despite the smartphones and technologies, the Facebooks and the Twitters, the gap between our outer and inner worlds is becoming wider and wider. Today’s 14 year olds have never lived in a world without social media, a world without Facebook and WhatsApp, without likes and group chats. And even though our isolation might reach its peak in our real lives, it is in the digital world that every form of privacy, autonomy and deliberation has been extinguished. The boundaries have blurred, our real lives have switched. Being ‘AFK’ has crossed the boundaries of the World of Warcraft, and entered the real-world human domain. Connection equals life, being plugged out equals being dead. Having a friend has decreased in value, and the fact that we get hundreds of them in return can’t possible make up for that.
But maybe this way of living is the only way for us to live together, for us to be around so many of our own kind without losing our minds; without being scrutinized by real-world physical eyes reminding us of our mortality. Facebook makes us in charge of our boundaries, of our identity, of what we want to share and what not, of how far we want others to invade in our wolds, to let them know about our victories and our losses. Artificiality empowers us. And given this huge amount of power we have in the digital world, why would we even want to interact with non-digital people? Everyone we want to know, we are connected to via the internet. And that’s enough. We can’t manage two worlds at once, not the digital world and the real world. That would be too much. So let’s shut down the real world, let’s put it offline, and focus on our really real words: the World of Warcraft, the world of silicon chips and the world of tweets.
We are one step removed from total connection, from chips in our heads rendering superfluous any face-to-face communication. The ‘we’ that we once were are dead, the us that we have become are born. Happy lives to us all.
But what do you think?