Facebook wants to be the internet, I read in the New Yorker.
That’s fine, I think…but the Internet isn’t Real Life and it’s time we stopped worrying that the two are negatively tangled.
Last weekend at a TEDx event in Bend I listened to artist Eric Pickersgill talking about his viral exhibit ‘Removed’. In his collection of photographs of everyday life he has removed all smart phone devices. His relationship with his wife changed, he said, when they saw themselves snuggled together in bed, their backs to each other, transfixed by their personal screens. They rewrote the rules for device use in their home and life, creating more intentional interactions. Everyone loved his talk, wow…yes…we all need to tune in more to one another. Wake up call. Discomfort with seeing ourselves in the photos. Heh.
I keep thinking of the Borg from Star Trek Next Generation. You will be assimilated.
But no. It doesn’t resonate for me. Online life will never replace real life, because when life gets real, I have to live it out loud. As my AP Lit teacher pal says, “AP Lit Theme #1: People Need People”.
I haven’t even been able to BE online for over a week because life has been too real to curate. Someone I hugely love died, leaving me stupid with grief and burrowed in to calibrate. I didn’t know how to feel my feelings, let alone how to make them fit Facebook. It wasn’t unexpected; she had terminal cancer. I'm not writing for support or acknowledgment, though of course I am feeling all the feels. I'm reminding us all that we live offline. No matter how spectacularly connected we are online, life takes place offline. The messiness, the pain, the bliss, the joy, the mistakes. That stuff isn’t happening online and it is real life.
A meditation on happiness suggested that to keep the flow of happiness going I immerse myself in simple pleasures…a warm breeze, the taste of tea, the sound of children playing. What came up for me to do was to smell everything around me…lilacs, ghee, coffee, toast. Smelling grounds me into reality. It feels real.
I hear that in Japan they are adding scent to text messages. But even if that rolls out globally, it’s not immersion. It’s a tiny taste. Feeling is big, it’s all over your body and it’s not always curated.