If we aren’t connected to the Internet, do we exist?

Cyberworld existence illlustrationphoto by yatharth roy vibhakar

All of us in the cyberworld have an umbilical to the Internet and panic if the connection is threatened. If our cellphone battery dies and we don’t have a laptop or tablet handy, we are forced to take desperate measures, maybe finding a WiFi-equipped coffee shop where we can charge the phone and then post on Facebook why we can’t be on Facebook. .
We are always connected these days. We check the weather or stock market, order a pizza, buy movie tickets while (unwisely) driving to the cinema, check our email every 10 minutes and text messages as soon as they arrive.
But it’s been at the price of self, and the price of silence.
We grumble when we take a cellphone out into the country, and the coverage gets spotty. We are so tethered to this thing that we live half our lives online. I have friends from cyberspace with whom I’ve only communicated via email or Facebook for years now, some with whom I’ve only EVER communicated by email and have never met.
Our shadowy selves meet and flirt and chase each other’s shadows and electrons down the winding paths of the electronic highway, and we may not hear each other’s actual voice, or see each other’s faces, for years. And yet, the friendships are often tight, close, as real as anything at all that comes across a firm clasp of hands in “meatspace”.
We EXIST in that shadow world, some hugely important part of us exists inside of it, and only inside of it.
But are we large enough, infinite enough, to exist both there and out here where the sun shines and the deer pick their delicate way across the wood and the squirrels leap and chitter while chasing one another around the tree trunk – out here where, right now, my cat is curled up warm and asleep in my lap, making it hard to type this and possibly endangering the existence of my electrons in the cyberworld just by being heavy and real and alive.
How much of us is there before we spread ourselves too thin? Where is the boundary between the tangible and the intangible? How do we define reality these days – what is “real”, and does something need to be touched to be believed?
We exist in something that is very much an ether, a rarefied atmosphere where we are atoms and shadows. I am writing this sitting in a “real” place, my office, my chair, typing on a clacky keyboard, staring at a monitor – you are reading this in places I cannot know, cannot imagine, but which are no less “real” to you than this one is to me. Somewhere between those two realities there is a bridge which we both step on when we enter the cyberworld, one foot back in our own respective “Realities” and the other somewhere in Terra Incognita, dissolving into the mist.
Do I really exist? Do you?
Or are we what the Internet has created, imaginary companions for a precocious ghostly child which spans our world, playing with our daily realities…?
I blog, therefore I am…?
Oh well. I have to go now. I need to check my mail.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

A Reader in the Internet world photoMary Amanuel, who does not use social media.
Photo: Alecsandra Raluca Drăgoi for the Guardian

Generation Z has grown up online, so why are a surprising number suddenly turning their backs on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapshot?
Read more at The Guardian HERE