There is humour in the city. Humour in the darkness and blindness of not knowing what lurks behind the colourful billboards and flashing light-matricies. And there is something behind the cracks, but we think we know what it is…
It seems like I sit and wonder about these things all the time. I’m trying to join the fractured elements of whatever I can grasp out of the air and construct it into a thing that I can see more clearly. I can see it now, but it is floating in the jetsom of my brain and I can’t figure out how to clear away the mess and reach out to it.
I had an idea. Blogs. These things. They are literal self-expressions, of a sort. They exist because real people drain their minds to the digital places, sharing their every whim with the netwerk of electronic wanderers. It’s this, I think, that makes these blogs universally popular and also universally hated. The arguement falls something along the line of artistic expression versus defining art: what constitutes the elements of free expression, but also becomes a useful addition to the pool of thought and idea that makes up the blogosphere? In other words, are the shared journals and ramblings of a thousand-million people the makings of something grander and bolder than humanity has ever created — or the flotsom, garbage and cheap roadside junk-stands on the cliche’d metaphor of the digital highway?
And so what? It takes publishing to a quasi-grass roots level, letting folks like the reallivepreacher make the jump, bound across that threshold. People will read what they think is (a) important, (b) interesting, (c) valid, and (d) real.
Ah, but you say, people read fiction all the time. And people — most normal, sane people — don’t think fiction is real, or are at least able to parse the absolute concrete from the absolute mind-vapor on a fairly consistent basis. So people don’t care if something is REAL, right?
Perhaps: but I wouldn’t read a news story that I knew was fabricated. As an example, supermarket tabloids, in my humble opinion, grasp at the absurd every day — and people purchase them. Don’t kid yourself. The publishers make a lot of money. But you need to remember: grasping at the distant truth is a more literal truth of such publications, and most folks will tell you: it’s for entertainment. Rarely do people believe: and when they do, society goes to great lengths to discredit those people.
So — back to the real.
Blogs are real: presumably, because real people write them. Real people, mostly, read them as well — though that is an “audience factor”, and I’m still building to that. But what if: what if you — YOU — came across a blog that was not real? What if you, wandering through the incoherent ramblings of a million digital journals, stumbled upon a glimpse into the life of a completely fictional person? Would you know?
I think it is a valid question. How would you know? Honestly, I don’t think I could tell. I don’t think I could differentiate between the incoherent ramblings of (for example) girl “A” who is a real live person, sitting in her quiet two-bedroom apartment, waxing-poetic to a keyboard and girl “B” who is actually a fourty-seven year old man, writing the fictional account of a person sitting in her quiet two-bedroom apartment, waxing-poetic to a keyboard. For example.
Just for example.
So what happens now?
We sit here and ponder the influence on internet culture through chat and instant messaging, through email and other forms of direct digital communication. Fraud and misrepresentation, we call it. It’s harmful, misleading, and meant to cause harm and mis-direction to many impressionable minds. But what about the indirect communication? What about fiction? What about the idea that I could sit down, right at this very moment, and start writing as someone else, setting my words adrift in the digital ether, afloat in the tides of a vast sea of information: is that wrong? Is that mis-representation? Or merely fiction? And ultimately, with no other influence than the occasional passer-by believing the illusion, what harm have I acheived?
It’s all hypothetical. But it would be an interesting experiment in a new kind of fiction: stories the audience doesn’t even know they are reading…
The idea lingers. It’s The Matrix. It is an illusion, just the control is different. Who creates the illusion? Who controls the illusion? Who controls the ideas and threads of human thought? And what really is the impact of fiction-unrecognized?
Which brings us back to blogs. These things. They are literal self-expressions, of a sort. They exist because real people drain their minds to the digital places, sharing their every whim with the netwerk of electronic wanderers. And do we continue to trust those people as real? And what kind of skill — if any — would it take to create the illusion of real that we continue to trust. I’m real. I assure you. If I were to make someone up, they might be a certain level more interesting than a mis-directed twenty-something lingering in a life where barbeques, ten-kilometer runs, and plastic aquariums seem to consume more of my time that anything. Or would I? You would wonder.
Though — and I ask because I am truely considering the experimental, yet fraudulent existence of a blog-sprite — could you find me if I was someone else?