Having always felt technologically out of place for a number of years now, I realized recently that my technological preferences may indeed be antiquated. About a decade ago, or “in my time”, the purpose of social media and the internet used to be to establish and preserve – connections, memories, discussions. Even the platforms that could be used as temporary media, such as Yahoo Messenger, had an option to save chats. Today the exact opposite of this is true. Virtually all platforms have versions of “stories” – ephemeral objects you throw out into the world knowing that they will disappear completely into oblivion, and in a day it will be as if they never existed.
Even as I use these platforms, my mind rebels against this outrageous concept. Ever conscious of my own impermanence and mortality, it is the internet that provides some measure of expression that may, with whatever little probability, endure past my own expiry date. I want to believe my thoughts, ideas, and memories matter – and sending them into the world lit with a short fuse seems to devalue them to the point of umbrage.
I guess the widespread adoption of this medium of expression may be due to the enhanced freedom it offers. You can afford to open up more once you are sure that it will not be a testimonial forever to your identity; a digital etch a sketch is much less risky than a digital rosetta stone. This impulse to be evanescent, evidently attractive to many, strikes me as deeply unsettling, in a manner similar to what Pope conjures up with “The world forgetting, by the world forgot”.