A digitized version of me

Arshid Malik

facebook“You are digitally almost invisible,” a very close acquaintance of mine informed a week ago. I was absolutely startled by this promulgation of sorts. “Digitally invisible” – what on earth was that supposed to mean. Believe me I could not make head or tails of this statement until I asked my acquaintance what it meant. “Well, you are not frequent on social networking sites and thus you are digitally almost invisible”, he replied. I was not sure what to say to him and decided to forego the “appliance-like” nature of this very personalized comment, yet all the same it set me thinking. A few hours of thought brought me face to face with the fact that I was in fact “digitally invisible”.

I recall setting up my email identities on every major free email service provider website as soon I heard the news of email accounts being offered for free and that is a thing of the past and believe me I almost never used these email identities and specifically do not have access to any of them. Had these email service providers been charging for the services I was subscribing I would be finding it difficult to bail myself out of a wide plethora of lawsuits right now. It was an information boom those days and I was young and perceptive and believed in taking the World Wide Web head on. I downloaded, installed and used all kinds of chat clients for the shortest possible time periods, perhaps hoping to get ahead of one and all in the race for Cyber-superiority, in my region at least. It was an explosive age by all standards, with freebies floating out of thin air while cyber-piracy in this part of the world was unheard of. I was, by all standards, a front runner. Then something changed and I lost my interest in the World Wide Web and et al. I was fed up, bored and unassumingly unaware of what all was happening in the cyber world. I guess I had come a long way away from technology, all of it. I had found my serene corner and was happy idling there until there was another boom at a more general level with the coming of free-to-use social-networking sites and instant messengers other than we had used in our greener days. I was not keen on joining these networking sites and all else but somehow I did wander off into this difficult terrain and as soon as I had an identity I was supposed to keep it alive which I did not and thereof my close acquaintance concluded that I was “digitally invisible”, which as a matter of fact I was and continue to be.

Today, if you do not have a cyber identity you are nowhere; yes, you are non-existent and most people would not believe you if you were to tell them first-hand that you do exist in the physical and the sublime spiritual planes. I am not actually able to identify the “issues” that might have led human beings to land up living by cyber-realities and near surrendering their physical identities to mere “usernames”. All I know is that perhaps people started loving solitude too much and did not want to see each other, leave alone individuals that we unknown to them and preferred first-hand communication to device-aided interactions (I am not sure whether I can use this term here or not). Whatever be, the fact remains that people in this world are more comfortable with digital identities rather than physical existences and we are gradually growing towards an age, in fact an era where DIGITAL is all that counts. Soon there will be digital warfare where individual nations will hypothetically bomb each other and cause digital damage. There would be no need to train soldiers and spend billions on practical defence budgets. Nations would be creating digital armies and digital warzones where digitized identities would shoot each other with bit and byte guns. Then there would be digital conquests, resolutions and stats and just that. There would be no more ending up dead, practically speaking even though the destruction of a digital identity would be more valuable than an actual one. I can just imagine the future ahead of me and the wondrous glitz and glaze of it all. No need to travel physically – just login and you are there. No need to dress up for occasions for no one would be seeing more than a decent digitized passport size version of you and the venues would be equally disturbingly digital. I count myself out of all such “becoming realities” but I guess I will have to adhere to certain norms of the day to stay afloat in this digital gargoylism.

I cannot afford to be carefree in the present scheme of things and have to take a step towards registering my “digital fingerprint” even though I do not like it. It is all like facing a stone wall and weeping your sorrows off. I am not a sissy and would love to have casual encounters which involve an actual exchange of blows and stuff but while I can long for the same I would not last for long. So, the resolution is that I leave my “digital fingerprint” everywhere and that is just what I am planning to do lest somebody should start living a life in my name. Guess what, soon you will meet a digitized version of me.

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