On real paper!

So what is my excuse this time for not having posted anything for nearly 2 weeks? I’ve been sick. Ok not for the whole 2 weeks, but at least since thursday, so 6 days, but still. Right now I’m in bed, wearing a sweater and scarf on top of my pj’s, surrounded by my new best friends; the kleenex box, the mug of hot ginger with honey, the effervescent vitamin C, the cough drops and syrup, and the Panadol Cold and Flu. Those who know me know that I am usually opposed to medication, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

But I did receive something today that made me perk up a bit: The February 2012 issue of Ragmag. In it there are three blogs mentioned, chosen because it is the month of love supposedly, and these three blogs somehow talk about love. Yes ladies and gentlemen, ‘Yup, this is it’ is the first one featured! (on page 130 in case you wanna run out and buy a copy). The wonderful Liliane Assaf of Lebanon Aggregator chose the 3 blogs and wrote a lovely piece about each. Liliane, whom I don’t know in person, keeps a directory of all Lebanese blogs, and organizes blogger meet-up’s. Pretty cool stuff. She was also the one who suggested some title ideas in response to the Non-Post.

So basically this is the first time that ‘Yup, this is it’ has had an incarnation in any way, shape or form on actual physical printed paper. Here is a screenshot of the piece:

And this is the (beautiful) cover of the issue:

Does this mean the blog has become immortal? How come paper feels more permanent and solid, though online material can potentially stay in ‘space’ forever? Have you ever wondered what happens to your blogs, your email account, your facebook when you die?

Back in November, I was at an extremely inspiring all-day event called Creative Social which ‘brings together the world’s most pioneering and award-winning’ creative directors, designers, and marketers. One of the presenters, Fernanda Romano, who goes by the name Fefa, spoke about this very topic. She said our online selves are kind of like the robots or cyborgs we imagined years ago. They are other ‘I’s that live in cyber space. And apparently, we’d better start thinking about what we want to happen to that ‘I’ when our flesh and blood ‘I’ dies.

Facebook for example, after several unfortunate incidents where someone had died and suggestions to friend them still popped up in relatives’ mailboxes, now gives next of kin the following options: Take the profile of the person down, hand over the content to the family, or create a ‘memorialization’, a page that people can visit, post and view pictures, etc. A facebook profile basically, but not exactly.

Gmail also allows next of kin to retrieve content of a user who has died. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any relatives of mine going through my emails. Ever. So finding this out from Fefa made me want to somehow delete all my content before I die. And yes, you can do that. There now are websites that allow you to decide what happens to (all) your online profiles when you die. One of the sites is called ifidie.net. Kinda sweet (or optimistic?) that they didn’t name it whenidie.net. Check it out, it’s a bit eery.

According to Fefa, our virtual ‘I’s don’t even have to die. If we take someone born in this millenium, by the time they die they will have accumulated so much online content and written and expressed so much that their persona will be out there, and technology will allow that persona to continue to interact with others after the physical ‘I’ is gone. There are people working on software that collects your online activity and, with sufficient data, can predict what you would do next.

Thatcan.be predicts your next tweet, but just for fun, and in a hilarious way :-)

The discussion about our digital afterlives is a bit uncomfortable. What about our soul? If we want to think about any kind of afterlife (and we don’t have to), isn’t it nicer to dream of a soul, an essence, a spark, an imperceptible flutter of a feeling that lives on, rather than an online software-generated persona?

Yet what about the pro’s of leaving an online trail? My grandmother died when I was 8 and I only ever knew her as old-ish (or seeming old to my 8-year-old self) and sick. I would have loved to be able to know her more after her passing through a blog (among other things she was a writer), or a facebook page she might have left. These things would have allowed me to continue to get to know her as I also grew from age 8 into a teen and into a now (sort of) adult. It would also have allowed me to know her at the different stages of her own life, since facebook profiles are now timelines. Our children will know us in different ways than we know our parents, that’s for sure. For one thing, if we ‘friend’ them on facebook they will have access to pictures of all we were up to and that we won’t be able to tell them not to do.

So these are our digital after-lives. Instead of visiting our graves, our loved ones will visit a facebook page or website filled with photos and memories. What do you think?

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Ayo, technology…

It used to be that you’d meet a guy, say through friends, he’d like you, ask for your number, and then you’d wait. He’d hopefully call, take you to dinner, then maybe a movie, then dinner again, and you’d smoothly transition into dating, getting to know each other little by little. Kissing and sex would happen somewhere in there too. Some of the fun parts would be discovering common interests, friends, and past experiences.

Now things are changing. And I don’t mean like: Oh guys are assholes now, or anything like that. Not true. Guys are as lovely and as awful as they always were, thank God. But technology is changing the initial phase of dating. You meet a guy, you like each other, you simultaneously add each other on facebook, bbm, what’s app, google talk, skype, msn (does anyone still use msn?!), email, and maybe even follow each on twitter. So before you even have an actual proper date, you’ve seen a hundred pictures of him and know who all his friends are. It’s WEIRD. You’ve seen his bad hair days, you’ve seen him at the beach, you know his taste in music, movies, his date of birth, his hobbies, where he studied, where he works… You get the picture. These are the things that are supposed to populate all those first candle-lit conversations and walks. You might even find pictures of his ex-girlfriends on his profile, which you shouldn’t be seeing in the first week of knowing him- if ever.

No more waiting for an sms or a call. ‘Will he call?’ Nope. Now he can just say ‘hey’ on any of your chat outlets, at any hour. He doesn’t need to have anything to say, or even try to make plans to see you. ‘Hey’. So maybe you date, but you likely have never heard his voice on the phone, and never gotten an sms from him. ‘What’s the difference between an IM and an sms?’ you ask. Big difference. In an sms, he actually has to think of what to write. And sometimes the sms’s are sweet and you save them and re-read them (yes we are girls). An sms actually has to be coherent, with an end and a beginning (at least in the beginning- later in a relationship an sms can simply say ‘tree’, make perfect sense, and give you a warm fuzzy feeling). Phone calls also require an effort at logic. Whereas a chat conversation has no beginning (except for the aforementioned ‘hey’) and no end. It just goes on and on, over days and weeks, with no real greetings or goodbyes, just a word inserted here and there. It take guts to call a girl, to figure out what to say or what to write in an sms… Most of that is gone.

Instead you get to see that he’s online (a green dot on gchat or facebook) and wonder why he isn’t talking to you. Bbm is even worse. You can’t sign out.

You also somehow know each other too much thanks to all this tech, without actually knowing each other at all. You feel this false familiarity and closeness because you’ve bbm’ed all day and stalked each other’s facebook profiles, and just ‘get’ each other sooo much. But then you see each other and you think; is that what he looks like? See, fb pictures aren’t the real thing, and regardless whether they’re better or worse than real life, they don’t have anything to do with the breathing, flesh and blood being that’s suddenly in front of you. You liked his style on facebook, but do you like the feel and smell of his skin?

It feels awkward when you’re face to face with someone whom you’ve previously been chatting with. On your devices you both had so much to say and both felt so funny, witty and daring, with sexy IM flirting, saying racy things you probably wouldn’t dare say in person. And suddenly he’s there, it’s clumsy, no one has anything to say, and it feels strange when your arm accidentally touches his.

Ayo, I’m tired of using technologyyy, why don’t ya sit down on top of me?
(50 Cent and Justin Timberlake)