Sometimes I like to visualize myself walking in the Internet. Why? I don’t know, maybe I’m trying to romanticize the cold 0’s and 1’s. Or maybe my primate brains are just trying to make sense of this digital pseudo-reality. Anyhow, I do it. And while trying to visualize the web, I have realized that the virtual world does not differ from the real one as much as we perhaps think, except for one tiny detail.
There are shopping malls and niche boutiques, newstands and movie theaters along with billboards and neon lights. There are dark alleys as well as high-end business parks, and the constant buzz of a huge metropolis is always present. In both worlds someone is always trying to sell you something, and if the regular stuff isn’t your taste, it’s easy to find some contraband if you know the right channels. I’ve also learned that pickpockets and other miscreants are a common nuisance in popular places, virtual or not, while some locations haven’t even seen traffic since the 1990’s.
The tiny detail then, you ask?
What is fundamentally different between online and offline are the other inhabitants. It seems that the majority of the Internet population are drooling, gibbering idiots completely incapable of processing concepts more complex than a derp cat. I mean seriously, while wandering the world-wide-web I feel that every other person I encounter can only barely control the urge to slap me in the face, pee on my shoes and run away laughing manically.
Comments, blogs, tweets, emails, IM’s, statuses, pins – a vast amount of noise, mostly static, mostly nonsense, a lot of it offending, a fraction of it murderous. Standing in a busy townsquare in the buzzing virtual world, with my soaking wet shoes and my ears ringing, I often find myself humming a certain song by Agalloch.
“There has never been a silence like this before.”