All of us here in the cyberworld have a little burgeoning Z inside of us, much like the one belonging to the author of this article. The one with the umbilical to the Internet. The one that twitches if the power goes out for more than four hours and *we don't get our email*. The one that makes us pay $10 for 20 minutes of Net-time at grubby airport consoles when our laptops aren't with us, or have lat us down by failing to connect to airport WiFi or having their batteries run down.
I've seen entries on LiveJournal stating that their writers are experiencing a power outage - and yet, somehow, they've managed to scrape the last of their battery power and are driving their laptops to the ragged edge, or have absconded entirely and are ensconced in a nice cosy WiFI equipped coffee shop - and they're on LJ explaining... why they can't be on LJ.
If we aren't connected to the Internet, if we don't have a pseudopod in the cyberworld... do we exist?
People carry the Net with them to an unprecedented degree these days. iPhones and Blackberrys and various browser-equipped superphones let you check the weather on the go, or buy movie tickets while you're driving to the cinema (not entirely advisable but I dare say people do it), or order pizza to go, or check the stock market... never mind keeping up with, and feeling the responsibility to respond to, the emails which drop into the inbox as soon as they arrive there. We are connected, like the human race has never been before. But it's been at the price of self, and the price of silence.
We grumble when we take a cellphone out into the country, and the coverage gets spotty. We are so used to lightning speeds that those of us on broadband who have to go back to dialup for whatever reason whine and complain about how LONG it all takes (and if you compare to how long it used to take before you had the Internet at all, you'd probably lose your mind). We are so tethered to this thing that we live half our lives on. I have friends from cyberspace with whom I've communicated via email only for years now, some with whom I've only EVER communicated by email and have never met; our shadowy selves meet and flirt and chase each other's shadows and electrons down the winding paths of the electronic highway, and we may not hear each other's actual voice, or see each other's faces, for years... and yet, the friendships are often tight, close, as real as anything at all that comes across a firm clasp of hands in "meatspace". We EXIST in that shadow world, some hugely important part of us exists inside of it, and only inside of it.
But are we large enough, infinite enough, to exist both there and out here where the sun shines and the deer pick their delicate way across the wood and the squirrels leap and chitter while chasing one another around the tree trunk - out here where, right now, my cat is curled up warm and asleep in my lap, making it hard to type this and possibly endangering the existence of my electrons in the cyberworld just by being heavy and real and alive, his great broad paws stretched across my lap, his snout buried into my belly...? How much of us is there before we spread ourselves too thin? Where is the boundary between the tangible and the intangible? How do we define reality these days - what is "real", and does something need to be touched to be believed?
We exist in something that is very much an ether, a rarefied atmosphere where we are atoms and shadows. I am writing this sitting in a "real" place, my office, my chair, typing on a clacky keyboard, staring at a monitor - you are reading this in places I cannot know, cannot imagine, but which are no less "real" to you than this one is to me. Somewhere between those two realities there is a bridge which we both step on when we enter the cyberworld, one foot back in our own respective "Realities" and the other somewhere in Terra Incognita, dissolving into the mist.
Do I really exist? Do you?
Or are we what the Internet has created, imaginary companions for a precocious ghostly child which spans our world, playing with our daily realities...?
I blog, therefore I am...?
Oh well. I have to go now. I need to check my mail.