“if you don’t like it, get off the internet”
They can’t say that anymore.
Before a new civilisation is built, precautions are taken to ensure that it will be safe for those that will reside there.
They’ll check that the air is clean and that there is drinking water, they’ll appoint a leader and set up a medical centre and a police station. There will be an army. Infrastructure. They build houses and shops. It will be happy and new and it will feel safe.
The internet and social media happened too fast.
By the time anyone really realised what was happening, the train was well out the station and heading, quickly, down a treacherous track. The authorities were desperately running alongside it, trying to climb aboard, to slow it down; to do anything they could to save those on board.
The passengers begged them to think of something. The train company worried about the losses they’d incur if the service was stopped. They worried more about what would happen should the train be derailed. Some people still in the station suggested it was the fault of the passengers for getting on in the first place. More and more kids jumped aboard, overtaking the authorities, outsmarting them. It looked fun. It was fun. Their parents came too. It gathered momentum.
What will the history books tell of this time?
Will they talk of a devastating crash? A smouldering wreck from which the smallest glimmer of hope was salvaged. A seedling left. Lessons learned.
Perhaps there was no crash. No one big bang. No obvious moment. Rather a slow and exhausting implosion. It came in through the vents. From the sky. Radiated from the ground beneath our feet.
They will wonder: how could they not have known? The air was thick with inevitability. No one stopped it. No one felt that? How did they not see it???
We smoked on airplanes. Settled arguments by duelling. We burned witches. Had slaves. We drove people to suicide with the kangaroo court that we built. The rocks we cast. The damage they do.
The history books won’t look to this with pride.
We have to believe that at our core, we are good. If pain is a projection. If every action a reaction. The bad that happens is a by-product of evil. A force bigger than us. Not us. Not humans. As sentient beings, let us be good.
Is the internet good?
The internet is everything. An extension of humanity. With every day that passes the two entities entwine so that it’s almost impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. We exist across a spectrum; encompassing past mistakes and all of that agony. More ominously, more painfully, we posses the potential for so much more destruction.
We posses darkness. Our cores shine bright but we hold darkness. We push it into the corners.
The internet doesn’t allow for corners. The internet is a ball. We are square. We don’t fit here. But we’ll force it. Push it. Our darkness and our light get mangled by the effort. We’re jumbled. Complex. We are a chasm. A black hole. We have nowhere to hide. We are falling.
“What’s on your mind?”
Tell us. Tell them. Say it. Say it loud. Say it louder!!! They aren’t listening. Try again. AGAIN. Go on. Say it. See what they say.
Say the bad thing. Get it off your chest. It’s freedom of speech. You are entitled to it. You deserve this.
It’s done. The poison is out, the internet, a vacuum. It’s taken from you. Absorbed into the atmosphere. Out in the ether now. You can’t take that back. You don’t need to.
Now, what’s on your mind?
If we don’t speak these words, are they heard? If these words aren’t heard, are they felt?
Say them to my face and watch me as I crumble. See the words as they hit my skin. Observe the damage they do. The tears that fall. The pain that’s felt. Share it with me. Feel my pain.
Words on your mind are not on your tongue. Words on your mind can’t hit my skin.
These words. The ether. Black matter. They don’t matter.
They matter more.
A meteor shower. Crashing down. Where are they coming from? Who cast these stones? I can’t see them. Can no one see them?
Please. Stop throwing them.
We type before we think. Share thoughts before we’ve had time even to consider their repercussions. We know they’re wrong. We’re sure they’re wrong. They’d taste wrong on our lips; bitter, painful, ugly. And we wouldn’t say them because we know what that would mean; not just for the recipient but for us too.
We know what these words mean and to hear them on our ears would be to accept them for what they are. What we are. The person who we have become.
So we expel these thoughts from our bodies in the only way we know how. A flash in our stomachs and they’re out through our fingertips and they’re gone. Unfathomable. Indefinable, even. They leave, shooting into the ether on a trajectory of destruction.
Incomprehensible. Almost untraceable. Aside for the residue of poison left in their wake.
We nod to our fellow pilots as we prepare to launch the airstrike. High on moral superiority and protected by our keys; cushioned by the knowledge that we are no longer sole beings. Unified in our intent. Safe in our perceived honour.
And then we shut the lids and lock our phones and walk away and our hands are clean and our smiles shine bright and we behave to the rest of the world like we’re normal. We love our families and call our friends and help the woman at the train station who can’t get her buggy up the stairs.
We exist as two people.
Or rather as one person, living both as they are, and then vicariously through the reflection of themselves that they see on the internet, roaming in that inscrutable extension of their own humanity.
Shirking from it. Drawn to it.
We only have one reality, though.
To distinguish where our real selves end and where our online personas meet becomes harder with every passing day. As our worlds become more entwined our reality becomes blurred. A conflicting existence of love and hate. Anger and joy. Kindness and loathing.
We can only be one person.
We can only be who we are.
And the extension of ourselves that we project into the ether, the unconsidered version, leaving footprints in virgin snow have now to consider what the equal and opposite reaction of our existence will be?
Because nothing does nothing. And everything does something.
Anything thrown, will land. Words said, will be heard.
No dark corners.
A vacuum for all that we put into it.
We must stop.
Please. Please stop.
The train that we are on is moving too fast.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t slow down.
(If you are in need of someone to talk to, please contact the Samaritans HERE)