The realm of the screen
Lost, like millions of others, somewhere in the multicolored screen…
I was losing hours of my life to clicks and bright pixels and moving pictures. They were not my muse; quite the contrary, they devoured whatever habits I had and regurgitated these as short bursts of amusement. I was being devoured by high-definition stimuli, as if the world and all sense of reality happen to exist only in 1280×640 resolution. No resolve for us all but to click on. Opening many windows on the browser, unwittingly closing many others outside the realm of the screen.
But that realm has become entangled—integrated—with the real. The digital and these intrusive interconnectivities are now parts of life’s daily routines, in varying degrees. Some now spend their lives confined in their rooms, exposed mostly to the glow of devices, eyes bloodshot.
For most of those who are connected (usually the upper and middle classes), this digital realm of ideas governed by all (and thus no one in particular), this connectivity to the immeasurable mass of data and information, the physically nontaxing interaction with nonphysical personas and profiles, is quite helpful in their attempts at functioning in the 21st century. It’s a century of neon lights on flat, 15-inch, light-emitting displays. Take pleasure and indulge in all digital delights without the need of any of the psychostimulants that it advertises.
It’s a century of machines and algorithms, where connection to the network and its infrastructure is deemed a right by the United Nations.
The name itself—Internet—contains the prefix that says it all. Connections with whatever identities everyone creates on the same network. Capacity to connect with all of them, if a person—someone who controls a digital identity him/herself—wishes to. The second part, perhaps to the generations decades ahead who will forget it, actually stands for “network.” They may be inclined to believe that the net alludes to how the new kind of connection captures you, and me, like unwitting fish in the essentially-binary-code sea.
Now, the sincerity of the most heartfelt of greetings and wishes, the utter hollowness of being lonely, the silliest of jests, can be relayed through juxtapositions of colons and parentheses, and convenient varieties. Symbolic expressions of human emotion are as easy as typing </3. Forsake the potentially ultradifficult and awkward interactions with fellows, acquaintances, and ex-lovers by encoding feelings as icons and words in small boxes and sending them from the comfort of your warm screen to theirs. Touch the pixels of the pictures on their profiles for enhanced effect without the unnecessary emotional expense. Stare into the umoving eyes in their well-chosen profile pictures, the new windows into the binary-code soul.
I, among the millions of others connected, have developed habits as I click the hours away. While connecting to every possible domain is almost impossible since hundreds, maybe thousands, are likely created daily, I practice routine visits to certain sites. Daily clicks to particular www-dot-somethings, showing human necessity for some kind of stability and regularity in everything, even in this new realm of the digital. Scroll through, to get updated on the current news, the latest buzz about your favorite celebs and bands, for domains are updated real-time subject to the rapidity of the producers of information on the other end of the line. Learn the latest events inside the digital realm, and even outside—about the lands of physical being where other areas possibly still don’t have access to the connections you have.
The best thing, perhaps, is I can express remarks on most of these happenings without much fear for my existence outside the digital realm, for I am behind the veil of the username, or only using a persona that has limited details on my physical self.
I, as a social being, and in continuing the habit of ancestors to record particularities of lives, especially my own, take part in social networks that revolve around my physical-world connections through regular or semiregular uploading of life snippets—pictures, videos, short narratives and other forms of typed text.
Projecting a digital persona that somehow resembles the one outside the realm of the screen is a worthy goal, although creating the digital identity to look like what I perceive to be the ideal is a worthier pursuit. With the capacity to regulate this digital persona, why not make it represent one better than the one that exists in the physical realm?
The cursor blinks together with our tired, radiation-exposed eyes, as one realm, one plane of existence, blurs into another—one of oceans and touches of hands, and one of digital escapades in the seas of information and connectivity through our microchip-run devices. Both are real.
Jayjay Lahoy, 19, studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
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