With some trepidation I’ve dived into the century. So I am a latecomer while most anyone reading these words—you, that is—presumably is anything but.
While I spend many of my waking hours with screen and keyboard—the accoutrements of my day job—I spent years eschewing the entanglement of social media. I even resisted cell phones—still do, though I have one, issued by my employer, that goes frequently uncharged. It has not been fear of the technology, per se, that has kept me so disconnected, but a conscious, deliberate, and perhaps just a smidgeon self-righteous lifestyle choice.
But I’ve spent more than a decade writing a science fiction trilogy—a fictional construct of more-or-less linear narrative—with an already completed novel sitting idle on my hard drive the while. So when I finally decided to e-publish the earlier one while editing the later, it became clear—and my trusted advisors so advised me—that I would have to take a deep breath and plunge into the icy river of the modern world.
Question: can one drown in virtual water?
Here’s the thing. There’s a learning curve, no doubt. Inundation is absolute. But perhaps more daunting than the how-to-do-it challenges is the lack of linearity: the matrixlike randomness of data, platforms, threads of converse, webbed cantilevered catwalked gantries and scaffoldings like some multiplied nightmare that Dali dreamed but dared not paint. Maybe you, reading this, will laugh at my anachronistic befuddlement, but tell me: tell me, please: though you navigate this digital multidimensional (and at the same time curiously spaceless) jungle with alacrity, can you actually get your head around it? When any destination is only a click or two away, is it possible to truly take hold of the geography entire?
I break surface, spluttering. The frigid waters of now. And here’s the dichotomous allure of water: it sustains life. Submerged, we drown. Contaminants pollute it and special interests appropriate it.
Oh, yeah—and a few pure drops don’t go amiss in a smoky glass of single-malt Scotch.