By Tayiana Chao
For a long time, in my mind I had toyed with the idea of a parallel universe, a notion that was often times fuelled by numerous science-fiction films, comic books and novels. I found it a tad bit comforting to think of an alternate world. A world that offered more remedies than it did maladies. A world devoid of psychological limitations and creative boundaries. Where people would have the ability to not just imagine but to create, to not just dream but initiate.
But the human mind happens to be a ceaseless wanderer and consequently one that will never find rest. Bringing me to the conclusion that, if there does exist a perfect world, then it’s highly likely that someone in that perfect world is thinking of an even more perfect world. A conclusion that would have brought this article to a rather untimely end, had the internet not been invented.
A couple of years back; the world as we know it today would have seemed like nothing but a baseless fantasy. It was almost comically inconceivable to think of a world where distance was not a problem and geographical boundaries were nonexistent. A world where messages would be sent from wherever to whoever in a matter of seconds. Where information was really at your fingertips because your fingertips would always be at the top of your phone. Where people were free to be themselves and most times free not to be themselves. A world where you could make thousands of friends and never meet them. A world so free, it would boast of infinite possibilities.
Possibilities of all kinds; some sensible, some exceptional, some ordinary others completely unheard of. Possibilities that make up today. Where we have people leading revolutions from behind their computer screens. Others running million dollar companies from the comfort of their homes. Countries spying on each other and fighting cyber wars much to the dismay of the rest of the world. Memories being shared in seconds and secrets spreading in an even faster time. News forums and blogs bustling with life and everyone itching to comment, compliment and criticize anything they can find.
They say that with great power comes great responsibility and sometimes it feels like we’re still getting used to the idea of a virtual world and the liberty that comes with it. A liberty that is occasionally misused or used with malicious intent. Where one person can build, another can easily destroy. Where there is an avenue to speak truth there’s an equal opportunity to deceive.
But I guess that’s the most interesting thing about humanity’s advancements, they take so long to happen and such a short time to catch on. One day you wake up and the next thing you know they’re flying cars and spaceships everywhere, holograms popping out of every possible gadget you can think of. And all the advertisements are telling you, that you need to buy new “thingamajigs” because the ones you have are outdated.
Now you’re probably wondering why on earth this article is titled Year 6000, I should have at least made an effort to call it something smart like, “The internet and the pacifying of human grandeur” or “ The conceptualization of time and …something something something ” but quite simply, it has everything to do with the year 6000. Because unlike trying to envision an alternate world and wondering whether it actually does exist, I’m pretty sure the year 6000 will someday reach, I just won’t be there to see it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t think about it.
In the year 6000, the inhabitants of planet earth will not study the ways of the Greeks and Romans. They will not tell tales of Greek gods or stories of ancient Roman wars .They will not sample Egyptian hieroglyph texts or quote Latin sayings. They will not marvel at renaissance art or gaze at baroque architecture. They will not have to dig up fossils and examine skulls in order to determine our brain capacity. They simply will have the entire history of our civilization conveniently located at a central place, a virtual one.
Because for as long as the internet exists and as long as we go around leaving traces of who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be, we will in more ways than we think remain immortal. I wonder what they will see in us, as they study our thoughts our tweets, emails, comments, photos, music the list is endless. Will they laugh at our folly or marvel at our genius. Will they think we were a brave civilization that carefully wielded its digital power, or a careless one that did not exploit its potential to the fullest?
And if you look at the internet as a museum of sorts, a magnificent palace lined with endless corridors of beautiful memories and thoughts, then you would realize that every tweet, every status, every email, every comment you ever made will outlive you. And these very comments will speak for us even after we are gone and be a testimony to who we were, who we are and who we eventually became. But for now, we go on living our lives as usual; unaware of the vital role we play as collectors, curators and custodians of a museum, in the year 6000.
Tayiana Chao blogs about Art and History at theeagora.com