Ray Bradbury wrote in 1953 the book “Fahrenheit 451”, when the internet existed only in Turing’s mind.
The protagonist of the book is Guy Montag, a “fireman” whose job is not to extinguish fires, but to burn books (paper is burnt at 451 Fahrenheit degrees).
Montag’s wife is a depressed housewife who takes psychoactive drugs and pals around with the “friends” exclusively. She sees these friends only on the screen-walls of the house.
Does this ring a bell to you? Have you posted something today in your “wall” and your “friends” liked it?
The internet is a huge revolution, but it could be a monstrous one too. On one hand, it enables the communication between people who are far away from each other and they could probably never “meet”. On the other hand it hampers the communication between people who are so close to each other.
The semantic depiction of this seclusion in the global crowd is the phenomenon of selfies.
Solitary people, in front of the bathroom’s mirror take pictures of themselves and then they share their loneliness with the whole world. They count likes and retweets, they read some brief comments (“you’re goddess!” – “sexy 🙂 ”) and smile smugly. We did communicate today.
I wonder, is this communication through the internet nothing but fictional or is it the evolution of the human communication?
To get a clearer idea, perhaps we shouldn’t ponder the elation of the contact but the grief of loss.
When you lose a friend, an “analog” friend, because they migrated or because you fall out or because they got married or because they passed away, you are saddened, deeply saddened (most notably in the latter instance because you know they are never to be seen again).
This is not the case with the “digital” friends. Most of them are but a name (or nickname) and some selfies (or avatar). These friends easy come and easy go. On the internet, much more than life itself, you’re here today and gone tomorrow.
The analog friend is irreplaceable, whereas the digital is a ghost. In essence you don’t know them since selfies and the words of the internet are but derivatives of a persona.
Only if you meet somebody in person, sit and talk to them for one or two hours, drink face-to-face a glass of wine, is registered in your mind as an actual human being.
Perhaps you need to touch them, see them photoshop-free, listen to their voice, maybe smell them too, to be convinced of their existence. All four senses are essential to befriend someone. The fifth sense, to taste them, hints at sexual relationship. Or maybe I’m wrong?
Because nothing brings two people closer than the taste: To taste the same food.
That is why in all social gatherings (since the creation) the food features.
How would feasts and ceremonies (an integral part of the human communication) be like if they took place in the internet where everyone would sit before their screen and type “Best wishes” – “All my best to your little miracle” – “you will be dearly missed”.
Life is a table.
The internet is the picture of this table.
But there is something more, even more monstrous, concealed in the selfies’ pixels.
A modern trend of the simplistic psychology of the best-sellers that is crystallized into the most widely known phrase: “Love yourself”.
The primary and main goal of every man should be love for his own self. As if this is something that man phylogenetically is short.
The “love for our own self” is acclaimed from the charlatan psychiatrists of the internet as the utmost treasure and purpose, self-fulfilling per se. We forget what the older and wiser than us people used to tell us: “the way to yourself goes through somebody else”.
The word “selfies” –aurally and semantically- doesn’t differ considerably from “selfish”.
And people are trapped in the delusion that they can be fine uninterested in what happens around them. But in a sea of misery, for how long could an infertile island float?
No man is an island.
There is an old Indian story, as I read it from Tagore.
Once there was a beggar. With outstretched hand was waiting for charity. One day a man approached him and outstretched his hand.
“What do you have to give me?” the man said.
The beggar became indignant with the man’s nerve. He searched in his rucksack and found a seed of wheat. The man thanked the beggar and left. The next day, when the beggar woke up, he found before him a golden wheat seed.
Then he understood and said: “What a fool I was, my good man, not to give you everything I had?”
A closing remark:
In dystopia of “Fahrenheit 451” people were committing suicide by thrusting themselves before the cars that tore up the dark highways. The drivers were killing them with no remorse because it was a part of their daily routine.
How far are we from Bradbury’s dystopia?
Should we come to terms with despair as something self-evident and inevitable?