Constantly online – escape into the digital world

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It's crazy how technology has developed over the past ten and a half years. It offers many advantages, but precisely because we are so often online, it is important to learn a mindful and conscious approach to the ubiquitous media and to remember that life writes the stories in analogue.

I hope you enjoy reading this.

Nightmare: The analogue world is extinct
Online, I have drifted away. Penless writing has steered me the wrong way. I jumped from page to page, kept getting linked and after some fling, I lost my bearings. As if someone had spun me in circles, the world spins in circles, though I remain motionless and just stare apathetically at the screen.

The internet holds me captive.

It is everyone's home, the bread for the world, the religion that everyone believes in without knowing it. Here everyone is equal, here everything is just, and yet it takes revenge, because the internet is big. Infinite and yet finite.

Where I stop, the internet only begins: it has the thoughts that I don't have myself. It shows me the places I have not yet been. It speaks the languages I don't understand. It knows my tastes and what I'm looking for before I know what I need. It suggests friends and sites that suit me. It knows everything and I know that I know nothing, only where to find it: On the internet.

But the internet is big. Infinite and finally boundless. Finally rid of all boundaries and makes little people big.

It is everyone's diary, even if everyone thinks theirs is safely – and safely unread – in the drawer of their bedside table. Yet the most secret secrets of the big secret services and the most private spheres of the small private people online are an open book that you can't open because you have nothing in your hands and nothing in your hands.

The internet is big. So big that you lose yourself in it and yet small enough to find everything else again and again. The streams of data hold me captive like an invisible spider's web. I want to get out of here! But the internet won't go out. I am lost and I have lost myself.

Can you find me?
Can you find yourself in me?

Connected, yet a stranger to myself
Even before I am awake, I am online. My WLAN has the best connection for twenty-four hours – only not to myself. I surf here and surf there, but not on my own homepage. I want to go offline, but I can't find the link. That's how linked the internet is and how big the addiction is that haunts me for many hours every day and makes me keep searching on the many pages.

Can you find me?
Do you find yourself in the addiction?

How difficult it is to bring the soul to rest when it is always kept in motion. When its material surface clings to every worldly possibility and what is underneath must always make waves and never become quiet. Never allowed to become loud. Never allowed to breathe because hardly anyone asks for it.

How difficult it is to quiet the soul when even silence has become loud. The internet is never quiet. Always only wise, because it knows everything, even the senseless.

Fictitious outside show and lack of introspection
How hard it is to quiet the soul when you are constantly following the latest news from around the world and living the lives of others. Like a little parasite that always eats but never gets full, I stick to the pages of others, while my page does not fill up because its host does not nurse it with life.

Because the lives of others are so exciting and one's own life only excites, because the lives of others last so long and one's own life only bores, I am always so happy online.

Analogue I am always lonely, but online I am never alone. Here I have thousands of friends who share things with me, communicate with me and linger with me online. Yet our faces are distorted, just like realities: As avatars, we celebrate holidays, weddings and parties, but we hide the dark sides offline – that's why no one wants to be there anymore. We only post a positive excerpt on the net now and then.

Virtual existence shows us bundled extravagances and the special lives of others. Completely uncensored and without Photoshop, I am happy when my face, which only resembles my profile picture in profile, is not reflected in the screen. Deceptive truth. No one puts the abysses of the soul on display.

Just as advertising plays with perfect-looking characters, we design a flawless catalogue of our selves on social networks. Do we have the wrong role models? Or the wrong images in front of us? Perfect aesthetics, a hunger for experience and starving until we live up to the ideal – yet deep down, nothing can fill us up. We are hungry for life and don't notice it because apathy doesn't like to talk. The inner emptiness is filled on the outside, cluttered up and enveloped by actionism.

Dopamine addict
How difficult it is to bring the soul to rest when one constantly wonders how many unread messages are waiting in the virtual mailbox. Yet it's not the who or the how many – it's much more the meaningless whether someone has written. Whether there is something there that you can open. Like a gift whose contents you don't know, and like a donor whose name you don't give, all you need is the blood. 

Online, I therefore walk the path to the letterbox incessantly, while I only dare to look in my post box at the front door once a week. A message on the outdated letter route can't be of any importance anyway – it has time. How nice for her – I don't have it. Because there's always something going on online and so I'm rid of time without being timeless. Always on the go and yet never ready to jump off, time passes and simply doesn't stop, nor does it stop with me.

Another click on Inbox – my obsessive-compulsive disorder takes on more and more weight. I have become infected online and when I compare the time it takes to send my emails with the time it takes to answer them, an epidemic has long since broken out. If there are more than sixty minutes between sending and receiving, my anxiety neurosis is activated and I worry that the person I am writing to, the patient in the next bed, has died of his neurosis. I should have received a new message long ago, which is like administering my next tablet, so that the anxiety finally gives way.

But nothing happens.

I make an emergency call via Skype and ring for my mother to no avail. To distract myself, I go shopping online and pay the bill for my order via online banking. The internet knows no Sunday, the internet is always nice.

Always hungry inside
The internet can do everything but satisfy my hunger and so I regret that fast food is only fast and not slim. I want to have it in my inbox and unpack it after downloading. An alphabet salad as a favourite dish that satisfies my inner emptiness. Not cooking, not doing the dishes, can't the internet do that? Because I can't leave here or I'll miss something.

I swallow the hunger, but it doesn't fill me up. Because there's a part of me that neither whether nor food can fill. Only I could fill it, if I knew who I was, without being logged in. If I knew who I was offline, I would still be there. But I'm not there, otherwise I'd miss something. Only once a week, when I dare to go to the mailbox, where no one meets me and nothing awaits me.

But there's always something going on online. The whole world is twittering that something is happening and trembling when something does happen. There is always unrest somewhere, because you can't report on calm. Catastrophes are always happening somewhere, because everyday life doesn't write stories.
We love the extravagant and need the rush, being normal was yesterday and so were traditions.

Crazy world
Our life has moved behind the screen. It takes place two-dimensionally, i.e. rather flat, in front of a small horizon. Depth is lost, superficiality lives. One is only on the outside, the inside is glued. Nature is the tilted window, movement the skilful finger play over the keyboard and a good conversation a virtual dialogue.

The analogue world is extinct.

My nightmare has come true and no one has noticed because everyone is behind the display and no one ever sticks their head out. Yet the internet can't dream, can't smell, can't feel, can't laugh and can't do nice things. It numbs the senses and steals our lives.

Longing for reality
When the whole world works like this
you can no longer take yourself out of it,
you can only exclude
and create boundaries
that leave room for oneself,
even if others hate you.
Be with yourself again, all alone.
Being analogue again, not always online.

What used to be quite normal
is a rarity today.
Today, rarely does anyone have time,
because everyone wants to do everything,
because everyone can do everything,
because everyone wants to be everywhere
and preferably at the same time.
Here and there, in space and above space,
and everywhere that no one has ever been.
And everyone wants to be back right away,
so as not to be left behind,
and hurry behind.
Because whoever loses the connection, loses the connection. Yet we have long been wirelessly networked and yet are entangled in something that is supposed to hold us together, but which takes away our breath and sometimes suffocates us


Bruce Jacobs

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