Digital legacy

Mubi has gotten more experimental since last I switched my interest to it’s little clutch of curated films. One film leaves every day, and one film arrives. My habit had always been to watch the one that’s leaving no matter what it is. Today it was a sixteen minute computer generated wide-screen contemplation of digital legacy, narrated by some dude on his phone on top of a hill in the wind. This is why I watch it no matter what. I wouldn’t have chosen it. But it kicked off some decent thoughts.

It naturally started with me thinking about this thing I’m doing right now in your face. My daily blog. Hmm. I haven’t gone into the stats for ages. Bear with me… 1533 posts including this one. Seriously, what the fuck am I doing?

“Whether or not you like it, it’s still going to be there,” says the narrator about the shit we leave online. Even if it’s deleted it’s still there somewhere. When I shuffle off I’ll stop paying for WordPress and most of these blogs will just instantly vanish when the subscription lapses. I guess that’s ok. It’s a living record and a conversation. I probably won’t still be doing it every day by the time I’m dead anyway. But once I stop giving WordPress their pound of flesh, pop goes the weasel unless I’ve worked out how to move it. Hey ho. But nothing is ever truly deleted online. It’ll exist somewhere.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I barely publish this anyway. I’m just shipping out a bunch of words every day to try and help me feel connected to myself, to you lot, to that world out there that’s been gently receding for so many of us for so long – that strange busy world we used to know.

“Our bodies are temporary but what we do is permanent,” says the narrator. But we make so much to pour into this digital void. “Look everybody look I saw a thing that’s visible!” “Here’s me and another human overusing our facial muscles!” “Here’s a person without very many clothes!” Billions of people like me and you creating things for free. “Generating content,” people used to say. Noise. Digital noise. Blah blah me blah blah.

I was helping a friend this morning who teaches people how to breathe on zoom. She loves it. She was an actor, and a fine one too, and now she’s turned what she learnt in theatre into a business where she helps executives to improve their communication skills and confidence with public speaking. It’s good work and it’s always lovely to hear men and women of all ages having little breakthroughs about all the things we have completely forgotten in this digital world – the way that our breath drives our movement and our thoughts as much as it does our oxygen. The balance of body and mind, and how easy it is to tip too far into one or the other. And just how to speak into the forward space with the appearance of confidence clarity and authority. She makes videos where she talks to camera about using the tongue or easing out the spine or intoning vowels. Those videos will still exist somewhere in 1000 years time, if the narrator of that short is to be believed. They’ll be kicking around with my daily noise and the billions of pictures of somebody’s lunch and the weird insects and the porn and the babies and the product shots and the health warnings. Maybe just on some dusty server in a museum basement somewhere marked “The social media bubble” and accessed digitally on occasion by PhD students of this foolish era of humanity.

This afternoon I drove a friend of mine to various paint shops where she’s colour matching prints and framing artworks that she’s been lovingly crafting for months ahead of an exhibition. They are beautiful and I’m proud to be able to help her. But once again, knowing how quickly the antiques I’ve been finding can deteriorate, I’m wondering if the Instagram photos of her art will outlive the art itself…

Or maybe it WILL all just burn. Eventually it will for sure, when the sun explodes into a red giant and consumes us – but that’s in 5.5 billion years. Those creatures will be the ones who hate us the most. “They plundered the minerals we would have needed to power communication devices that also sent pictures and videos.” “What things were so important to communicate that they destroyed so many resources in doing so?” “Pictures of cute cats.” “Ok. That makes sense I suppose.”

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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