This post is written in weariness. Expect little of it.
A friend shared a link to a news article about a loved one's death on Facebook earlier today. I wanted respond meaningfully. I could not. I could hardly click "Like" with its little thumbs-up. Think about it: how bizarre is it that a website has standardized and minimized our reactions to things to whether we like them or not?
A comment on the shared item would have been only marginally better. There is something missing in a short blurb of text pasted on a white screen. Had this friend held up the article in the paper in person, I would have reached out and squeezed her shoulder, or perhaps offered a hug. The internet has no comparable communication. There are no internet touches—only internet letters, images, symbols. Everything is fleeting, unphysical, almost unreal.
I like the internet. I use it every day, often for several hours. I spend considerable amounts of time creating content for use on the web—whether in writing or in web design. I enjoy the ways it enables us to communicate with others, with people we would not otherwise be able to stay in contact with. I appreciate the ways I can interact with the lives of my friends even when apart, separated by miles or circumstances. It is nice to know that a friend had a baby, a cousin joined ROTC successfully, or a sibling got splattered in paint on the first day of school.
But sometimes, I just want to give a friend a hug when it's needed. The internet can't do that. For all its promise, and all its already actualized potential, it is in the end as insufficient as a letter—save that the letter has on it the advantages of physicality.
I wonder if, in our rush to embrace the internet, we have perhaps forgotten the necessity of touch for reality to make sense?
For me, at least, ebooks will never replace a book, for this very reason. Paper's very texture carries feeling, weight, substance.
Take some time away from your screen. Go give a friend a hug. Share a cup of coffee. Read a book. Take some time away from electronic signals and spend some time talking in person. Enjoy the internet for what it is—but stop trying to make it do things it will never be able to do.
Someday I will make a real essay out of these thoughts. For now, I'm going to sleep.