She opened the portal…
From Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, Magnolia Pictures, 2016
From London Review of Books:
Why did the portal feel so private, when you only entered it when you needed to be everywhere?
The amount of eavesdropping was enormous. Other people’s diaries streamed around her. Should she be listening to the conversations of teenagers? Should she follow with such avidity the compliments rural sheriffs paid to porn stars, not realising that other people could see them?
She lay every morning under an avalanche of details, blissed: pictures of breakfasts in Patagonia, a girl applying foundation with a hardboiled egg, a shiba inu in Japan leaping from paw to paw to greet its owner, white women’s pictures of their bruises – the world pressing closer and closer, the spider web of human connection so thick it was almost a shimmering and solid silk.
It was a mistake to believe that other people were not living as deeply as you were. Besides, you were not even living that deeply.
She opened the portal. ‘Are we all just going to keep doing this till we die?’ everyone was asking.
She had become famous for a tweet that said simply: Can a dog be twins? That was it. Can a dog be twins? It had recently reached the stage of penetration where teenagers posted the cry-face emoji at her. They were in high school. They were going to remember, Can a dog be twins? instead of the date of the Treaty of Versailles, which, let’s face it, she didn’t know either.
This had raised her to a certain airy prominence. All around the world, she was invited to speak about the new communication, the new slipstream of information. She sat on stage next to men who were better known by their usernames and women who drew their eyebrows on so hard they looked insane, and tried to explain why it was objectively funnier to spell words wrong. This did not feel like real life, exactly, but nowadays what did?
‘The problem!’ She sounded militant, like a lesser-known suffragette. A foreign gnat was stuck in her mascara, and her mouth tasted of the minutely different preparation of coffee that Australians found superior to the latte. The audience looked at her encouragingly. ‘The problem is that we’re rapidly approaching the point where all our dirty talk is going to include sentences like Fuck up my dopamine, website!’
can’t learn? she googled late at night. can’t learn since losing my virginity?
Her most secret pleasures were phrases that only half a per cent of people on earth would understand, and that no one would be able to decipher in ten years’ time:
grisly british witch pits
sex in the moon next summer
what is binch
what is to be corn cobbed
that’s the cost of my vegan lunch
pants burn leg wound