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Amber Paulen

The Internet

…or on being connected

Before I even begin I would like to ask you two questions so that the answers are there in your head through the duration of this piece. Primero: What would you do without your cellphone? Secondo: What would you do without your email or the internet. To sum up: What would you do if you disconnected?

That’s the catch phrase isn’t it? Connection? Your cell phone rings, it’s your lover reminding you to buy a dozen eggs. Your cell phone rings, it’s your mom telling you about the great time she had at canasta last night. You arrive at your office and your inbox is full, you proceed to respond to each one with overrated diligence. You get home where there are twenty more emails in a completely different inbox. You surf the net. You chat to a friend without uttering a spoken word. Your cell phone rings, it’s a friend who wants to know if you would like to join him at the bar. Your cell phone beeps, there is a text message. Your cell phone beeps again, there are five more emails for you to check. Your cell phone rings, you reach for your ‘personal’ ring-tone in a simple compulsive motion. Your cell phone rings, your inbox beeps, your cell phone rings, you reach for it without a thought passing through your capable mind. Except for maybe, ‘Well, now who could this be?’ which is answered by a simple glimpse of your personal glowing screen. Your cell phone rings. You are an automaton, a cog, just another fluttering in our automated society.

Stop already! If this is connection I’d rather have the whole mechanism zap me to Timbuctoo. I’d rather be flung with all that connecting electricity to the adjacent universe where they talk to each other with voices and eyes and gestures. None of this technological shit. We’ll be in the ice age in two days at the rate we’re going. What is the point of this perpetual connection? I really want someone to tell me because I honestly have no idea. What happened to basic human contact? How can we reach our divine origin if your head, like the ostrich, is stuck so far up the ass of this onslaught of continuous demand? I’m sure you feel like throwing it all overboard at times. Like Raskolnikov who stands on a St.Petersburg bridge, tortured by his maddening thoughts. But like this Russian, you too walk on. Your cell phone rings. Your hand moves for it automatically.

Ahhh. . . I moan with pleasure, stretching my arms to the ceiling. I am typing out my novel and it is filling me with unparalleled delight. The African heat stamps across my forehead like so many Pentecostal flames, I rise until I am quenched. Summer reigns over Bracciano and the languid life drags its toes in the sand, decelerating despite its current turtle pace. Simon has been trying upon moving into our tiny nest, to bestow onto it, ta-dum! The Internet. Whether his attempts are failures or that this place resists with inherent polar magnetic force or the Telecom Italia technicians have skipped town on early holiday or can not be bothered to work, we will never know. But we expect to have it in September! When the weather cools and when the turtle again begins to plod! plod! plod! Though this doesn’t bother me at all. I will always be the farmgirl, taking pleasure in falling behind the times. Anyway, emails have never been a strong point and I enjoy having an excuse. My cell phone never rings for I do not own one. I cringe at the thought of this form of constant connection. What happens when, as I stare out of the window, my thoughts drifting and jumping, quiver and hover in some strange suspension, breaching galaxies I’ve never seen nor even imagined. My thoughts carry me and I am my thoughts, which are this galaxy and I play with all the enthusiasm of a child, Brring! Brring! The cell phone rings? Like the flatulent expulsion of a balloon that has come too close to the sun, the whole vision comes crashing the the earth. Nope, can’t do it, I prefer my reckless thoughts any day.

Really, I don’t understand how you can.

Though I must make some hopeful comments and pull the potential of the internet out of the morass of my opinion. Of course there is much needless bullshit online. It’s just another marketplace for the headless consumer, there is the upholstery and all those terribly written blogs, everyone jamming up space just to get their picture somewhere. (Did you catch mine in the about section, he! he!) But there is also a simultaneous movement, quite independent of all that other junk, that of art and this great sharing of knowledge. For now as humans, we are able to touch each other in full circumnavigation of this grand globe. What we have before us is the potential of unforeseen unification. If so many of us believe in this thing, this whole other dimension that has come to be known as the internet, which is only a series of computers sharing invisible numbers, what then are we not capable of? Just subtract the computer participation. Our minds are becoming tuned, one seamlessly to another, bringing into evidence that web of connection that has always been there, but which only needs to be individually realized to be truly attained. What are we waiting for? We have been given the power to lift this planet and ourselves with unity, to heights that have only been previously predicted. I believe the internet to be practice. We are stretching and jogging in place within our own corners until we are ready to merge together. Human contact beyond voices and eyes and gestures.

Brring! Brring! There goes your cell phone again. You better pick it up. You’ve had too much independent thought for one day. It is the all-knowing society that knows and is on the other line. It is better to be fettered by mind and choice then to be soaring like that silhouetted bird you see making playful loops and dives out of your office window (that is, if you are lucky enough to have one.) That’s what you’ve always been told. To start questioning now? well, you tell me.

I am that bird. I am a dreamer. By dropping my connection I have been given everlasting song. I soar with the freedom of the self. I am everything I will ever want to be. Amen!

Bracciano, Italy
July 2007

Note: Strangely enough, today has given internet. I find it funny.


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