The texture of digital life is indifference. Everything sliding around at the exact same distance from you, always. My mind is somehow extremely convinced that everything is as interchangeable as what can be bought from a grocery store.
There’s no point investigating, no point paying deep attention to the same thing because it’s merely a copy of a different thing, which is an instantiation of an abstraction someone conjured in service of a totalising goal. This strawberry is STRAWBERRY; a barely-lived life driven harshly, rivetedly, anaemically towards the standardised strawberry goal. Such an object cannot have specific, loveable detail; cannot have life—it is made up of the same sorts of squares as all other things. The unit of measurement is the pixel, even in physical space. I cannot touch anything—it always exists only as its own abstraction, and I can merely look.
Indifference feels like numbness; looks like a sweet cloudy glaze over everything I can’t feel anything in particular.
And sometimes I drop that, and the wild neurotic psychotic intensity of EvErY KIND of PREFERENCE that looks back at me in the world is horrifying and engulfing; every noise all at once, rising to fever pitch. This is probably why I turn it off and it reduces to a glazed and frosted hum, most of the time. It’s like a thousand standard ghouls biting rough trademarks into my skin, gnat-sized and quivering.
I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for me to be enough to hear all of that, at least at the size I’m at now. Other people defend the world to try and make it quieter for me; I can only cower; watch as symbols turn to mush in my brain and I move them around with the other mush like hours-old milky lucky charm cereal. Sometimes I expand my attention to include every single symbol on my laptop screen, and I reel at the devilishness that my poor subconscious is taking in, my attentional liver straining with all its might to filter out the toxins and give me only the nutrients of thought, emotion, social bond, physical matter, financial consideration. This poor psychic organ works overtime and has been given no extra tools in this biblical flood of an informational age; the hapless sods who give advice as if they were diet gurus offer the limpest of suggestions about timers and ad-blockers and avoiding the newsfeed, as if this didn’t pale in comparison to the sheer volume of STUFF my eyeballs and ear holes gorge on each day.
And stuff with intention!—stuff someone wanted to put there so that I might do something that they want me to do. Imagine for a second what would be true if you did actually register every single thing in your vision and your hearing and get subconsciously affected by it, I have but a mere machete against an army of machine artillery and every single day I get gunned down but delude myself into thinking I’m still standing.
How the fuck I survive this without relinquishing my power in the world I have no idea. It’s clear there’s always the option of the hermitage on the mountain, sans electricity, perhaps with some books and notepads—but you will not move the social mountains of your time with that. As a member of society, in order to do anything with it you must LOOK at it, and in doing so you let it see you. Look! There’s the impulse to check Twitter again. Exes and enemies and others to be envious of become hungry ghosts in the machine you hold in your hands—you can always see them, or at least their simulacra. Each person is at least their physical presence as well as all of the symbols they create and their many representations. Your friends are already partially automated, at least in your mind. Their souls taken and stuffed into little rectangles you can call up at will like minor deities to shape your experience and your relationship with them.
My life exists mostly on this astral plane, and perhaps so does yours. And we were never taught to walk there, we don’t know the terrain, and we didn’t bring a jacket. It’s raining, pelting down a thousand piercing little spittle specks, little packets of disgust and joy and fear and horror and rage and seduction and of course because you’re learning to play the game you throw your own out there too.
Almost everything around you was created by some other human, and for many of those things the intention of their creators was not fulfilled upon their delivery to you. No—once delivered, thus begins only the start of a comfortable vampiric relationship, one that you maintain part-time, with a fraction of your attention, but which is the full-time job of many employees of some large ravenous corporation to maintain on the other end.
We are being drowned in this hailstorm. Individual people, with their skin and tears and childhood memories and pubic hair become just as interchangeable as the packets of chips on the shelves in the supermarket which is interchangeable with the supermarket in the different country which you took an interchangeable plane through interchangeable airports to arrive at. This blossoming complexity hides the fact that more of it is becoming the same, and it is hell-bent on incorporating you into its sameness.
And the fact that you think a sovereign thought at all in your whole goddamn life somehow is a miracle.