Watched the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who last night. In typically absurd, totally nonsensical and yet devilishly devious fashion, it was all about aliens that were uploading human minds into their database and feeding off them, should the hapless punters happen to click on their free Wi-Fi!
I was pretty smug in the knowledge that it just couldn’t happen to me because my internet, courtesy of Etisalat, was so utterly slow and stuttering that the upload would fail. Though thinking about it, an interrupted upload might just have left only part of my mind intact… Perhaps that’s already happened?! Would explain a few things. Where is the Time Lord when you need him?
Anyway, that bit of my grey matter still left functioning in the upper storey, started pondering the real message behind this story – that we’re already all hopelessly hooked on the internet, and rather helpless with it. Admit it. You’re here right now, aren’t you?
The Me of today, despite having lived and worked in a world before widely used or useful Internet, is at a loss to recall just how I managed to function without it. The Me of tomorrow, would be left a witless whimpering wreck if some nefarious enemies of the good Doctor were to turn up and switch off the web in its entirety.
And the Me of the future is certain that within a short frame of time, we will indeed somehow have our bodily synapses directly plugged in to cyber space – as it will once again be called. Cybermen we all will be one day, mark my words.
Think my use of the term ‘hooked’ is a bit excessive? Well consider the findings of a survey, a couple of years back, that suggested that internet addiction might cause the same brain changes that are seen in alcoholics and drug addicts.
Thanks to smart phones, now that we all can, and do, get our fix anywhere and anytime, surely it’s getting worst?
We transact our day-to-day lives on allegedly secure servers, and live our leisure time on social media, withdrawing more and more from a reality that tests our physicality too much, that insists we be charming, and witty, well turned out and full of enthusiasm and energy, like the aforementioned Doctor. True. Right?
All of this of course will seem more than a little bizarre and highly hypocritical from a self-professed and ardent proponent of the digital medium, someone who’s conceded most of his being to the virtual set-up, earns a living from it, and spends most of his night and day entwined within the allure of the net.
That’s because I don’t believe we’re doomed.
I give, perhaps naively, a little more credit to humanity – a species that has a proven track record in versatility and adaptability. The internet, like the pen before it, and the hammer and chisel before that, is merely a communication and information tool that we use as we need – for revenue, for relaxing and for recreation.
How do I know this? Because I’m undoubtedly a user, and compulsive webaholic for certain. And yet yesterday I was shooting a car in a wadi somewhere and a habitual check of the phone revealed no signal, nor any access to the cyber-juice. I was cut-off, disconnected, severed from the supply.
And yet I was fine. Relieved in fact. Peaceful with it. There was no compulsion to make a beeline for a mast. Just a desire to drink in the serenity of a silent signal. Bliss.
But then again, I always knew the net would still be there when I got back, ripe for harvesting. And so would you be, my fellow web zombie! It’ll take a Doctor to save us now.