I got my first laptop ten years ago. The glow of the screen absorbed me then, too. More seductive even than the television screen. Through my laptop, through the internet, I was able to connect. I was able to be drawn into the glow of the 12″ screen, and forget the dark room around me.
It still happens to me. Sometimes it is a much smaller screen. There will be moments when I look up and look around me and realize that I’d lost awareness of the space around me. And while that disturbs me, I still don’t alter my behavior very much on a daily basis. My eyes go to the screens. For contact. For connection. For information. For work. For pleasure. For distraction. For education. For the feeling that I am doing something. That I am somewhere.
When, of course, I am right here. But what does “right here” mean? Everything was connected before the internet. Everything is still connected even when I am not.
Everything is still connected even when I am not.
This world continues to exist, I continue to breathe, to love, whether or not the internet knows about it. When I remind myself of this, I cringe at it, because this is the reality I live in. I can’t live in it and pretend not to be a part of it, not to need it, not to enjoy it.
But sometimes I get the feeling that I have become just a collection of tics, of gestures that pull up notifications, that I am always just waiting to respond to something. The hunch in my neck and shoulders are evidence of the proportion of my life I spend looking into screens.
So I am drawn to the dirt, and to the forest, and to the mountains. To deserted places.
Except I’ve gotten used to feeling so connected that I don’t understand what it means to feel that.
I smoked salvia once. A very strong batch. I came back from what felt like a lifetime and could hardly believe that I was me, though I knew it. That dissociation has never completely really gone away. Or, my memory is just so good that I recall it with such clarity that my brain replicates the feeling.
I remember that I am me, most of the time. It is easier to forget, though, when I am absorbed in the glow of the screen, managing a version of myself. And then I look up, look around, and wonder a little about what’s really real.