The Social Network: I’m Wired In

Originally posted Nov 1st, 2010 3:33pm via Tumblr.

Let’s party like it’s 1999, like the world is ending, like Y2K is going to burst our .Com bubble, and take down our Internets and intranets. It’ll be total system shutdown, a nuclear meltdown, the streets will be filled with militants, the stores with looters, our homes with candles. The world is ending, not with a bang, but with a whirring whimper.

We woke up on January 1st, 2000 and nothing had changed, no doomsday had come, no digital clocks had frozen to mark the moment when Skynet died. Instead, electrons whirred on, through our grids, bursting into photons, jumping across silicon diodes, counting in ones as they created infinitely smaller rainbows across the screens playing the stories of our Age, never skipping a beat.

We were the ones who had changed. Like skeptical villagers threatened by a ravenous wolf, we returned to our daily lives assured nothing would again shake the Matrix we were building. Then September 11th happened, tossing clouds of smoke so dark we turned in terror from our reflectionless screens to consider the real world again. We reacted, we rallied, we found God, country, moral conscience and threw money into coffers promising to save us from the demons appearing streaming on CNN. We heard more attacks could happen any day – Christmas, they would be back on Christmas.

We woke up December 25th, 2001, to cloudy skies and bare concrete. The world was getting warmer, but the lights still blinked on and off, programmed in digital Glory, Santa still cried “Ho, ho, ho” when you reached for the candy bowl, and the internet fed us stories of goodwill and charity. So on we built.

We built social networks and bought advertising, invested, divested, and derived. We designed, developed and datamined. We indulged and demanded more and better, and me-centered, then shrunk back in shock when our names echoed across the internet. Our sneakers are reppin’ our own style, our blogs are trafficking our unique 2cents, our Youtube channel is tweeted, our riffs are being downloaded, and our espresso machines can make more flavors of lattes than all 3 Starbucks on our block.

Our hearts still have an annoying tendency to do their own thing, despite our orgo, low sodium, 30 minutes cardio reprogramming, but Skynet is totally on demand. Sure there’s the occasional “inheritance” email from Uganda or overplayed 80’s song on our streaming radio, but most of the time the Matrix responds to our every whim in perfect timing. It’s hot this fall, unemployments at 10%, the deficit went from 0 to negative a billion and Asia is slowly siphoning off our only competitive advantage, top scientists, with money we gave them – but everyone’s a rockstar on MySpace, a KOL on Twitter, an artist in Photoshop, a philosopher in their blog, and an entrepreneur on the web.

The only complaint, when we’re not complaining on Yelp, Gripe, Foursquare, Facebook or Twitter, is “failure to load”. Zuckerberg, according to the Social Network, said of Facebook it would be a network which “never failed”. It would a creation from a creator so demanding it would change demand. Our world wide web would become the Matrix – it would never turn off.

“I’m wired in” say the digital geeks in the Social Network. As they code away with their headphones on, the characters throw beers, babes and jibs at them, proving their impenetrable focus on their task. In art, in painting a mural, creating a massive collage and even a mobile strategy powerpoint for a client, it’s possible to become “wired in”, impenetrably focused on your task: Obsessed. Their sodium-potassium transport proteins are whirring away, shooting volts down to their digits, flipping switches, translating steriod spikes to photons, building the Matrix.

What happens though, when “wired in” is no longer a synonym for creation, but rather consumption? When rather than creating our reality, we exist only within it? When we need our Matrix to create, within its confines, a chapel ceiling to paint by number on?Are we still amazing if we can’t tweet about it? Still funny without someone liking it? Can we question without prompting? Do we know its ridiculous if Jon Stewart never mentioned it?

If MySpace went broke, would you still be a musician? Can news happen without channel? Would elections end the same without pundits? Would Sarah Palin win in 2012 without sound bites? If we woke up tomorrow, and Facebook was down, would we still be friends?


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