It gives me peace of mind to think that maybe, just maybe, my digital soul will survive into the far future — long after my meatspace body has decomposed.
Before I started posting, my thoughts were more abstract and non-verbal — like blobs of play-doh floating around a zero gravity chamber. I used to spend a lot of time re-molding these amorphous thought forms into Twitter-friendly nuggets. But nowadays my internal monologue speaks tweet by default. Thoughts bubble up from the depths of my psyche readymade for the timeline, already twisted into the pre-programmed shape of a Post. I wonder if the algorithm is starting to interfere with the way my subconscious works.
Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I’ll scroll through my old posts just to remind myself of myself. It feels like looking in the mirror. I’m swallowing my (digital) self so that I’m me instead of someone else.
When I look at the gradient of a beautiful sunset, or the hairline cracks in a concrete sidewalk, or the murky texture of a cumulonimbus cloud, I can’t help but think about how hard it’d be to make something like that in Unity. It’s almost like the world is a big game engine and God is the supernatural renderer. Maybe one of these days I’ll turn around too quickly and spot a glitch.
When I’m hanging out with friends who spend a lot of time on the app, we can basically speak a whole different language together. We’ve memorized enough videos that we can have a whole ass conversation using only obscure quotes and dances. It’s a lot more full bodied than regular English. Sometimes I forget how dense the memes are until I try to explain them to my parents and realize that there are layers and layers of references and duets compressed into one 60 second vid. I vibe a lot better with people who are steeped in TikTok culture because the emotions they express are usually based on popular trends, which makes them way easier for me to relate to.
But my digitally augmented memory is a dumb nostalgia machine that dispenses pellets of my past to boost engagement numbers. Whenever I take a photo, I’m always thinking about how my future self is going to end up consuming it as a memory.
Like, the other day, I went to send a text to a friend that I haven’t talked to in a while. I was expecting a blank canvas, but instead our thread was polluted by an awkward conversation we had 4 years ago. I’m strung out across time, haunted by the ghosts of my old messages, statuses, photos, videos. Another weird thing about social media is that when you change your profile pic, it also changes the profile pic on all your old posts. It’s super jarring to see something I wrote a long time ago right next to a picture of what I look like today. That photo of me next to those words… they aren’t even the same people!
It’s easy to lie to yourself about what you really like and who you really are, but your recommendation algorithms and search history keep you honest. It took me a solid 20 years to figure out that I’m gay but the TikTok algorithm figured it out in like 47 minutes lol.
At this point I can almost smell the demographic labels I’ve been tagged with, and it’s honestly kind of comforting to feel known. Who needs astrology or Myers Briggs when you have all these apps?