Hall of Broken Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors

The vampire can’t see its reflection. In the social media world, humans can’t either; what was a reflection once has now become more akin to a broken mirror; now, our identity is more of a polycultural affair.

Until recently, we’d wake up in a retreat of our making. We’d then proceed to maybe choose an outfit suitable for the occasion of the day, check ourselves in the mirror, see that we looked reasonable, and then leave the house, being about our business.

Things have changed drastically within the last few years. Now, the retreat is its own metropolis of connections to the outside world; Nyarlathotep and his digital tentacles whispering forbidden wisdom, Cthulhu’s wireless meme-complex broadcasting a never-ending ocean of confused narratives on you, past you and through you.

People complain about Orwell’s 1984 as though they’re soldiers lacing up their boots to storm Normandy; the battle has been and gone, and you’re losing the current war because you’re living in the past.

People complain about Orwell’s 1984 as though they’re soldiers lacing up their boots to storm Normandy; the battle has been and gone, and you’re losing the current war because you’re living in the past.

That’s before you wake up, even, in our somewhat-more-longwinded-than-I-intended analogy. We get out of bed, and let’s say we haven’t reached for our phone before doing so; we choose our outfit based on the SmartMirror weather forecast, and as we finally reach for our phone…

Several notifications ping at once because we read a “Digital Best Practices For Mindfulness” article on Buzzfeed and so we actually switched off the Data/Wi-fi connection while we were sleeping. As we flick ‘Airplane’ mode off, (because, we couldn’t simply have a “let me disconnect in everyday life” button; gives the wrong impression!) we’re hit with several notifications.

First among them; the work Slack channel buzzes because the Big Boss is coming down from Main Branch today. No Slacking, all hands on deck stuff. You briefly check out your outfit… might want to get the ironed shirt out as opposed to this one, which has been over the back of your computer chair for the last couple of days. You look a bit tired mate, and a new shirt might help your look.

Second, and more pressingly for the part of you that still remembers what it’s like to be a human, you got a couple of Tinder matches while you were asleep. At least someone likes your photos. Cute girl called Samantha, you scroll through her pics; fine, but the angles she posts suggests she’s hiding a few pounds that might cause you to misrecognise her. That said… you’re guilty of that too. Looking back up at the mirror, you realise that your carefully-curated Tinder shots are probably a little generous; you are rarely that clean-shaven, your hair hasn’t looked that styled since Pre-‘Rona times, and, well, it’s make-or-break as to whether you’re going to start hitting the gym now it’s opened or you’re just going to cancel that monthly payment.

Looking back up at the SmartMirror, you notice the time. You should be going soon… however, there’s just time to look at Twitter. It’s always fun – except when those guys disagree with you – because you feel that Twitter is your most honest expression. After all, it’s just your words, and mostly, everyone there agrees with you. They didn’t when you started, but you’ve found your groove there now; you know just what to say in just the way to say it so that you get a whole bunch of notifications. Is there anything better than knowing that you’re not alone? At least fifty people will like the average tweet you post – so it’s great to start the day knowing that your authentic-self has allowed you to find many kindred souls.

Crazy, modern world tech. You’re connected to 20,000 souls whose names you don’t know. But then, what’s a name anyway, really?

You look in the SmartMirror. It’s time to go now. Time to stop being @MindMoneyWisdom and put on your brave face for the Big Boss; you’re not entirely sure what to make of her. Her picture on LinkedIn is stern, professional but on a late-night browsing session you got suggested her as a Facebook friend and she’s in matching family pyjamas with her dog in her profile photo. Mixed messages became even worse when you clicked through to her profile. Most of it was private except the photos that were linked to her (public) IG account. She’d been for bottomless brunch with her friend Isobelle yesterday morning, which I guess young women did on a Sunday, and her story from 19:48 last night had a picture of a report stack with the caption, “urgh… different week, same shit.”

Unprofessional. You hope nobody else from work saw it. Gives off the wrong impression to any mutual that have to work with the company.

Shit, you realise… I’m running late now.

You basically have to run for the Metrolink into town. Embarrassing. You almost didn’t have enough time to stop in at Café Nero for a coffee, which you always like to do on a Monday morning. You’d never admit it, but you’ve practiced discretely eyeing yourself in the windows as you walk from the Metro Stop to the office; you sling your jacket over your shoulder with one hand as it’s a warm day, sip from the throwaway mug in the other. It’s a practice walk that conveys the right attitude for a day of work.

This mental rehearsal flashes through your mind as the girl gets you your coffee. She actually liked some of your paddleboarding Instagram photos a while back after you met her at a friend’s ‘house party’, but she probably doesn’t recognise you in the suit.

Between the coffee shop and your office, you see a guy walking a pair of Chow-Chow puppies. They’re easily distracted bundles of fluff. One pulls a little at the lead and manages to sniff your shoe. You think about taking a photo to post online later, but it’s a bit presumptuous, and you go to bend down and pet the fluffball, but you realise you don’t really have any time.

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