Often it seems that everything must be a hyper-sensation. The infectious reblogging, retweeting, pinnings and sharings of the fangirls and fanboys of their respective fields of fashionable geekiness has taken the internet by storm. Indeed, one could almost be forgiven for thinking at times that the internet is the sole preserve of the fandom kingdoms.
Everything is an obsession. Every press release is poured over and adored by thousands. Millions of photos are transformed into ‘Memes’ and reinforce their cliques and in-jokes; these people gain a form of pseudo-community, a random collection of accounts spamming on the same topic and being devoured passionately by a range of people who are very well divided by geography, class, wealth, religion or language and yet are united with every ‘like’, ‘share’, ‘pin’ and ‘retweet’ of their favourite photos and fanfictions. With each new picture the pulse of the internet quickens, with each new quote the global symphony of ‘Oh My Gosh!!!’ rings forth and with each new fanfiction the grammar Nazis and Geeks line up to do battle over every last piece of incorrect grammar, or minute inconsistency between the micro-narrative and its respective macro-mythologies. The pulse of the internet is measured in the peaks and troughs of its cardiograph. The more pictures, the more content; the more peaks. Yet as with any drug, the more you take the more that is required to provide your fix.
What once started as an interest, an art, rapidly degenerates into an obsession. Quantity becomes the name of the game. How many photos can I see? How many ‘likes’ can I get? How many followers did I gain today? Quality is reduced, diminished. The same photo appears on a thousand different sites with different watermarks or quotes overlaid upon it. Old quotes are recycled onto new/different/any photo available. Emotions become adjectival, rather than verbs. A picture might make someone happy, or they could cry. They hate it or they love it.
As one Meme said of an Oxford Don speaking of another: On the surface it’s profound, on a deeper level it’s superficial.
There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with these pictures or with the hungry need to consume ever more in the vain hope of belonging whilst maintaining the illusion of individuality, however there is something lacking.
I think about other areas of my life. I turn my mind and its wondering thoughts away from the path oft travelled and stray forth over hills and through the valleys and by the winding streams of my subconsciousness. Away from the traffic of routine day to day life I find myself feeling, experiencing, being. I’ve walked through the barren deserts of my mind and lived through the echoes of the scorching sands as the wind lashes at my body. I’ve dismantled buildings and places and memories and emotions to find what lies underneath. The temporal pleasures of photos ultimately never satisfy. Neither do the physical touches, or the memories of them. Words have power and yet they are empty, for I’ve exchanged powerful words that have evoked strong feelings in others and myself and yet once the voice of the words has faded on the breeze, it’s nothing more or less than a memory.
Consuming is empty. Wine shall not slake thirst nor shall fruit satisfy hunger. This is the secret that was hidden in plain daylight, which has been written in creation and preached throughout the centuries. Yet I have been blind and not seen, I have been deaf and not heard. It took a Baudrilliardian map of lies to shipwreck my heart, my soul, my ‘me’, for me to see what I should have seen and to hear what I should have heard. Our lives will never be completed nor satisfy if we voraciously stumble from sensation to sensation, instead our lives will be found to the extent to which we abandon everything.
The locus of fulfilment is found within the extent to which we place our identities and our worth in what we each give to the other.
Love is not a meme, or a quote or an adjective. Love is sacrificial, redemptive and generous. Love is the offering up of oneself to the other and fearlessly exposing every hidden nook and cranny. My life and my past are not just green pastures and clear blue streams but it’s churned up battlegrounds stained with blood. I’ve been both a Saint and a Viper, and love isn’t to present only the Saint so that I might receive a medal. It isn’t a clever line to win a photo or a charming smile to steal a kiss. Love is nakedness, vulnerability, exposure and trust.
To love is to risk everything.
To be loved is to be faced with someone else’s nakedness, their risk. To love and be loved is greater than fandom and memes. To love and be loved isn’t about the number of people you can sleep with. To love and be loved is to both expose yourselves utterly as two individuals of light and darkness, as two people with pride and shame, pleasures and hurts, smiles and scars.
When I say I love something, I often fall into the trap of the internet; I devalue that which makes me ‘me’. Because love isn’t an adjective; it’s a verb and it’s the ontological foundation of personhood and relation. I don’t love a meme, I am in and of myself love for another. That love isn’t just an adjective to be bandied around; it’s a fundamental that constitutes who I ‘am’.
The internet says #lovewins #loveislove #loveyourself but Love is not a hashtag, it’s not an adjective, and it’s not even political or legal. Love is knowing that you would live and bleed for someone, exposing yourself and experiencing their wholehearted exposure of themselves and going through the pain that this encounter entails – and through this, pursuing a genuine engagement with that person. Real love, for every person; real equality, for all people; is found only in the eyes of the carpenter who lived and bled for everyone, exposing himself to experience the consuming pseudo-communal hunger for the ‘fix’ of self-validation and distraction. It was and is in his sharing this hunger we all share, that he became and is the only food that will satisfy. No more do we cling to our pain and chase pleasure, instead we find our pain has been embraced and this embrace brings a contended joyfulness that endures all things.
You see, ultimately that’s all that we can do, to let go of the our personal reflexive pronouns and to resist the hubris of self-definition by continually and repeatedly allowing ourselves to be stripped bare and seen by the one who loves us the most. We want to say that we escaped the cave ourselves #pro #winner #followme, but the truth is that we are dragged out of the dark and the flickering shadows into the sunlight by another and in that light of love find ourselves undone and made anew. Eyes adjusting, the light shows us the one who loves us.