Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Digital Buddha Nature


The other day, I was reading about how people are responding to the "ghost" profiles of dead folks on Facebook. Some feel comforted that something is publicly left of their friend or loved one. Others find it an unnerving reminder, an unwanted ghost that keeps reappearing. There's a sense that those who are hooked in to the Facebook world, or social media world in general, are grieving differently. That a certain element of grief has gone public, where not too long ago it probably would have been totally private. I don't think this is bad or good per se, but it is interesting how something digital - like a Facebook profile - can have so much emotion attached to it.

I sometimes feel similarly about old blog posts. This one of mine from over two years ago, about Buddhism and Ayn Rand, suddenly has been receiving comments again. It certainly doesn't affect me in the way the Facebook profile of a dead friend or loved one probably would, but somehow I feel a bit of ghost all the same. Ayn Rand seems to linger in this country in ways I'd rather her and her views didn't. But there's also the blog post itself, words I typed in days gone by, that are returning, great reminders that the past is also the present. No separation, whether I like it or not.

It's easy to think the internet is an entirely different world, or something not real at all, just a playland or workspace for humans. But it's part of this universe as much as the dirt and snow on my boots. That's oddly comforting, and discomforting, at the same time.

4 comments:

reikifeet said...

I feel sort of the same way about old things i've written - like an old diary. Makes me think of impermanence, because the tone an old writing can often feel so foreign when reading it much later, as if it had been written by a stranger instead. I'm no longer exactly the person who wrote that.

I had my late husband's facebook account memorialized, because until then "he" kept popping up in weird ways, and friends who didn't know he'd passed would post inappropriate things (can't wait to see you at the reunion) on his wall.

But we needed to keep his facebook presence. He was an over-the-road trucker, often home only one weekend a month. We kept in touch via facebook (and Runescape, for the kids). It's where i would leave him notes when we couldn't talk. So after he was gone, i still often left him notes there, although the kids never did. His extended family still does. It's become a representation of an aspect of him, like a shrine is a representation of an aspect of enlightened beings.

That one-sided communication, and persistent lack of response, was definitely part of the process of letting go. I think i'm grateful to have had fb to make that transition less abrupt.

Nathan said...

"That one-sided communication, and persistent lack of response, was definitely part of the process of letting go. I think i'm grateful to have had fb to make that transition less abrupt." This makes a lot of sense to me.

And yes, the old writing sometimes feels like it was written by someone else. Familiar and yet not.

SEACC said...

Hmmm... The dirt and snow on your boots just are. In there "isness," they are beyond ideology or view.

They become something different when the become part of the human mindscape and its artifacts: art, inconvenience, a mess, evidence of your disregard for cleanliness as you enter the house boots unscraped.

The internet is part of the human mindscape and thus subject to ideology, views, and myriad of things human.

This is a crucial difference, it seems to me.

Nathan said...

"The internet is part of the human mindscape and thus subject to ideology, views, and myriad of things human." Yes, I agree. But is it truly separate from the dirt and snow?