Despite and probably due to its ability to connect users in disparate/close geographical locations and professional persuasions, the Internet encourages its users to become web-entangled spectacles, through engines like Friendster or Livejournal. What happens off-line - loves, friendships, enmities, material habits, etc. - can easily become fodder for spectacle, for titilitation and consumption. Users can never look at each other “eye to eye” as Jimmy might say; instead we look at each others’ artifices, at photographs and all the other visual ephemera and language that we have used to create our personas.
A lot of it is fun, a lot of it is akin to art, but I have found that a lot of it (including mine) is wet laundry flying off the wire above a busy street and anyone who bothers with such matters will pursue them to that inevitable place: futility. If you wished, you could pass the hours looking at the details of journalists’ lives, at lists, photographs, what they ate that morning and what they are wearing and what they think about those goddamn Hilton sisters, who get more mainstream media coverage than the destruction of Palestinian homes by Israeli bulldozers.
And after all that time has passed, you might wonder where it went. Although the distance between yourself and a person far far away may have been crossed for a few minutes, you have not committed any act in real space, real time. Intimacy is ephemeral. Maybe you signed an online petition or passed one via e-mail, regarding some worthy cause or another and with the belief that it will actually do something real regarding this cause, and maybe you e-mailed someone whom you have been meaning to e-mail, but still. There is all this lost time and nothing has happened beyond that little bubble of self and computer.
In the early twentieth century, Marcel Proust began a book that would span volumes. He was in search of lost time, in search of the significant, the perfume that still lingered after all the ephemeral moments of the everyday had passed into nothingness. Proust sought to glean the memory of sensations past, sensations that had occured in a real space and real time (1880s-1910s Parisian society) between himself and real bodies - his loved ones, his neighbors, etc. And although they had passed away, leaving behind dust, bones and belongings, the memory of their bodily transit through his life remained, to become art.
I want to see my friends age; I want to record their presence in my life but they have left for other cities and other lands. Often the only way to communicate is by e-mail or through our journals. And so I fear: I fear that the more virtual time passes in my relationships and the less time I see them eye to eye and skin to skin and ear to ear, the more impoverished the reservoir of intimacies to remember.