• Hiyah

An Ode to the Digital Era

Boom. It was like an overnight sensation. The digital world slowly being tamed by our fingertips, dripping information one article, one webpage, one video call at a time. People can now communicate with the other side of the globe in mere seconds, quicker than sound, almost as fast as lightning.

Much like anything, there is a side to the digital boom which is worth the loss of sleep and the sky-high bills. When a smile creeps across a laptop screen of someone you haven’t seen in days, months, years, the whole idea becomes phenomenal. It's a marvel of mankind, a feat of engineering compared to the man on the moon, and thanks to NASA and the digital era, something we can now watch for years, on repeat, with just a little click on a clip surfaced on YouTube.

Art has been summoned from its hallowed halls to an online print. It has revealed its dirty pores to a bigger screen, clearer than the human eye. We have access to the world’s greatest pieces of art without having to purchase a plane ticket and the result is stunning. People with no hope have arias blasting from their screens, from their laptops and their hearts. Art became a human right, no longer reserved for the walls of the rich. Ballets are accessible to enjoy even in rusty arenas, it became a widely viewed dance, not one confined to theatres and seated puppets.

But like all good, there is bad. The horrific side of the internet is well known - it’s taken the aspect of ‘don’t talk to strangers’ and transformed them into video interviews for folks hoping to get a job fresh from the graduate line. It has caused pain, heartbreak, a cheap deal with the devil produced by the same digits used to analyse the inner depths of the earth. The digital era is riddled with problems, holes in every plan are publicised, and flaws for every inch of personalities are scrutinized.

But yet, here we are.

‘Isn’t it amazing how connected we are?’, they say, ‘Isn’t it so great, I can now see her across the ocean, in the sky, in the most remote corners of the world?’.

The digital age has sculptured a new era of perception. Through a frequent influx of apps to keep us in front of a screen, we alter who we are superficially. We make our skin smoother, our teeth whiter, pinch in the waist and lift our heads high with our fake self-esteem. It forces us to confront each other more than we care for, see people we don’t like on a regular basis because we need those numbers on our social platforms, only to pretend that privacy was never really ours in the first place.

A new form of employment has taken its place on the census, to be ‘insta famous’ or being shoved on the hottest new show because we managed to become viral. Landing parts in films and segments on talk shows because we seemingly repeat and re-rinse the same people through the system until someone dazzles their way to ‘new-found’ stardom, which you can now view from a screen on your watch.

But keep in mind, because of the digital age, people could keep their jobs. Throughout a pandemic, we were never separated from work. Physically? Yes. But not mentally. Not emotionally. Not psychologically. Work and home are welded together, causing mental distress, but we applaud the digital era for its ability to connect us.

The internet exposes secrets. It hoards information and spills it to those who know what buttons to press. It can spotlight your 15 minutes of fame to anyone who picks it up and presses that little button to retweet and share. It can highlight the gravitas in the world, the kind who carry an atlas for something that seems to be a little heavier than the earth, with a moniker of basic humanity. Some people willingly release information, to create memes of knowledge, to share cultures, thoughts, opinions and rights. It can be used to highlight injustices in the world, and connect people who feel alone, unspoken for, or who are still fighting for their rights in 2020: #blacklivesmatter.

But we can bring up a post and make you resonate with our culture. We can show you a funny side in having strict parents, to have unique yet doppelganger punishments as those who live halfway across the world. Food which is considered exotic can appear on your doorstep without you needing to travel to inhale its delights. Only for someone to leave a four-star review because they realise their spice tolerance needs to be built and one shouldn’t throw their tongue in the deep end.

The digital age has moulded us into amateur doctors, teachers, professors and activists. It’s told us one side of the story with the other looming not too far behind. It acts as a wrestling ring, as a comforter, as a mother to strangers without owning a home.

The digital world has hurled us into a new era, one filled with hope, misery and anticipation. What could possibly come next?


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