Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

The Internet

Published in Strays.

Where my mind forgets, The Internet remembers. That sticky residue of the past like sap, a historical cache of connections, moments, and memories sticking to a person with the frightening permanence of an industrial adhesive. Everything stored in the cloud, held in a weightless currency of bits and bytes while its heaviness is immeasurable.

The apps act as portals to an infinite feedback loop, each providing the opportunity to lose myself in a state of endless narcissistic reflection. The glow of the handheld window never reveals a vision of what’s happening, currently, however, but of what just happened — the present moment perpetually revealing itself with a slight lag caused by a period of electronic digestion. Being present in this sort of arena means being forever trapped in what just happened. And with both feet planted in a moment that no longer exists, my input in this space is recommended — encouraged even — with the energy behind each unique platform begging a similar form of shorthand feedback, insight, or opinion of me. The destination of this process is a forced nostalgia for something that’s barely finished happening, as if that moment had something remotely to do with me in the first place.

I’ve never forgotten that “if you’re not the customer, you’re the product,” but whose best interest the creators have in mind is of little consequence when the chemical surge of validation hits the brain. Here, in this space of limited peripheral vision, this instinct to participate is only fueled by the reciprocity of others — each instance of their noticing, liking, favoriting, or commenting all further solidify the habit of impulsive clicking to gauge personal value by way of virtual credibility.

What meaningful connection is there to be had if any interaction relies on a foundation of highly self-edited digital personas intelligently navigating through a vast jungle of confirmation biases to find common ground on an actual human level?

Into the fireplace go the yearbooks.