The Conscious Ape

A glitch in the matrix and the death of positive vibes

The Wild West of Yore:

The internet is a weird place. If you go off-line for a day you feel like you have missed everything, but if you're gone for a week you feel like you missed nothing. That feeling compounds tenfold with today's smartphones in both directions.

Today's way of life feels "off", unlike let's say 15-20 years ago. I think everything being instant today is why it feels "off". The journey to do something is pretty much non-existent today. Before, if you wanted to rent a movie, you had to go to the video rental store or if you wanted to buy new music you had to go out and look for a Music-shop.

Even pirating movies or music was more fun compared to today, with websites like LimeWire and Kazaa being virus-infested cesspools that you had to circumnavigate quite gingerly so you don’t give the family PC digital equivalent of AIDS.

If you wanted a date, you had to venture out into public, bars – clubs – parks, etc and strike up a face-to-face conversation with another person, try and get a number from them and so on, it was a long-ass journey.

Everything was in a manner of speaking physical before – more tactile, you can even say it was more alive. In those journeys, you were experiencing random moments of life, chance encounters, weird happenings, and unexpected outcomes.Not to say that all this was good, I like to refrain from blind sentimentality as much as I can, yet it is hard not to miss times that at least seemed more in touch with physical reality.

The world was simply different. I've been thinking about this for some time....our planet had a different "vibe". It sorts of, disappeared around 05-07. There was this vibe, it's hard to explain, but think of it almost like a universal shift. Like a glitch in the matrix. Something you don't notice until it's gone. The lighting, the atmosphere, and the smells of the local arcades and movie theaters...the sun just hit the earth in a different way to be poetic about it. It was easier to enjoy “all the small things”. The world wasn't perfect but it definitely felt more utopian than what we have today.

I don't want to blame it all on technology however we as humans haven’t changed in the last 15 years, homo sapiens hasn’t changed for the last 100 000 years let alone the last 15, but the technology did, tremendously so.

Social media platforms with instant updates, instant communication, instant messaging, instant movies, instant chatting, instant this, instant that, all of it combined created this false sense of reality. We were not made to live like this. Yet we have built this system for us to inhabit it and are now paying the piper.

Anyways, as I said, life wasn't perfect back then but our universe felt more "chill"...more of a relaxed nature...not as much oversaturated with information, and there wasn’t this overload of data pressing on our minds.Today, it feels like our physical reality is just passing by on the side while we stare at our phones in this new digital reality. We have a small portable black hole in our pockets at all times, that just sinks our energy and productivity. We are constantly going to "destinations" just clicking and scrolling away with no experience of the journey or any rewards for partaking in it, excepet this constant feeling of anxiety that chokes all will to live from us.

Maybe I just dwell on the past too much...Like I said it's hard to explain but there was definitely this vibe or feeling in that time period that no longer exists A comment that I saw for the song "Steal My Sunshine" said: “It was like one long perfect summer with no end.” I grew up in the late 90s and early 00s and agree with this sentiment full heartedly.

I think I was the happiest (technology-wise) when my only access to the Internet was via dial-up at the public library. Every trip to the library meant new discoveries. Back then to get my fix required me to walk across the city (admittedly I live in a small city – but give me a break I was a fat kid with a deep love for staying dormant as much as possible). In one instance I discovered that the library PCs are unprotected and that I could download things over it and take them home if I had a blank CD (a high expense back then mind you). Today the Internet is pervasive. The barrier to entry is gone. The amount of effort I need to expend to get my "fix" is to roll to my side to pick my phone up while I'm still in bed. If I'm not careful and always mindful of it, I'll lay there, phone in hand, until I have wasted the day away. It's a problem bordering on full blown addiction.

The Great Shift:

After about 2008, the internet started to become more consolidated and commercialized. Pre-2008 or so, it was this wonderful place to discover people and information, or to be honest, some fucked up shit as well, the internet back then was the wild west, from gory websites to weird porn, just remember those classic videos like:

  • Two girls one cup

  • One guy one hammer

  • The video of the guy who shoves a glass jar up his butt …

  • Cartel chainsaw beheding

And so on.The blogging ecosystem was amazing; in-depth discussions that would range over loosely-joined groups of blogs. You got a real sense of intellectual depth (sometimes*, other times it was a 4chan like circle jerk). And now, just about every aspect of public life, from storytelling to music to politics to the flow of material goods, is subordinated to algorithms.

On a more serious note, I don't think it's *just* the idyllic nostalgia everyone feels in their youth; I think 9/11 was the catalyst for a new age of fear, surveillance, and repression which has spread worldwide, but without delving too much into conspiracy theory field, whatever happened, the “vibe” of the world has changed irrevocably and we are yet to meet the full consequences of that shift.

Until then we can only try and minimize our digital consumption and try and actually “touch the grass”, and not have 87 tabs open at once.