It is beautiful to be real. To feel the not-quite-crunch of burnt smores across the roof of your mouth. To blink open your eyes against a swarm of water droplets settling across the sides of a waterfall. To speak a single word and feel its vibrations tunnel across your interior, like that of some decades-old snake.
All of these sensations are gifts of reality. Not just any reality, but this one, the one our senses take from and inhabit. Existing is such an inherent, obvious part of the current human experience that it feels strange to love or acknowledge. But as we begin to replace this existence with new creations and discoveries, we risk drawing away from the world that enabled us to begin with.
Machines of unbelievable magnitude and raw power are hosting collections of human thought and intellect and debate. This is the realm of the internet, of everything ever typed and posted and played. In many ways, the internet is vaster than the reality we currently have access to. It catalogs an astounding array of incomplete art and history- incomplete, but far greater than any collection within the bounds of the physical word.
Some of the words lining this page come from a different reality. They come from parts of the mind, a labyrinth of lost memories and lost hopes and lost fears. The mind is a treasure trove of individualism, a scrapbook of the places we have been and the people we have met, with a million amorphous shapes stamped between each page. Like any book, the mind can be ripped and torn apart- but it is the most self-sustaining, ever-evolving book known to the human.
Our media is a collage of different realities, each song or movie or book inhabited by its own cast of characters. For our media, time unfolds through the turning of pages and the moving of pictures on a screen. Time, within media, does not crawl or lunge in extended motions; it moves at it pleases, skipping generations with the blink of an eye and making lifetimes out of individual moments. But unlike other metronomes or instant-altering instruments, media manipulates the moments to compose entirely unique symphonies of experiences.
What makes the internet, or the media within it, or the minds that perceive both any less real than the world we inhabit?
There are so many realities already at play, and so many more we have yet to explore. Like all of our discoveries, these new realities will unlock new possibilities and enable wonders beyond our imagination. They will bend (and maybe break) our current understandings of the possible and impossible. And as our rhizome of fantastical worlds continues to expand, there is the very real possibility that the reality we inhabit will shift from a certainty to a choice.
As we journey to these infinite expanses and tiny universes beyond our own, I hope we will stop, fill our lungs with the new air we breathe and feel it crawl across our skin. And maybe take a look back at the reality we came from, and everything that made it one worth living in.