As you might have noticed by now, I try to combine my paintings with stories. The idea being the story tells how the painting came to be or what’s behind it. This one’s a bit different though. The painting pre-existed the story. Not on canvas I must admit, but it did in my head. I had even worked out the title already (which I’ll reveal a bit later). Due to the lack of any good stories, the plan was to just make a pretty picture.
And then I went to see “Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World” a Werner Herzog documentary. A documentary about the revolution caused by the creation of the internet. A sort of the good, the bad and the ugly of it. The story just came to me when walking home by myself. Apart from just telling the story of the internet, it also dared to speculate on its future. Something none of us can truly imagine (Try telling someone in 1995 that in 20 years, online cat videos will get more views than international prime time television). Predictions of course ranged from utopias to dystopias. They got me thinking.
The internet did cause a revolution in the past twenty-five years. We’re now connected to the world 24/7. The only reason you’re reading this is the internet. We have friends and family on the other side of the world that we can instantly communicate with. By all means internet should have made us more social creatures. And yet, somehow, it managed to do the opposite. We spend hours watching screens every day instead of talking to our friends or neighbours. Cities are filled with lonely people. You can see them all around you every day. They walk around like zombies; Looking sad and fatigued. They seem to be longing to talk to someone yet to scared and unaccustomed to actually strike a conversation with a stranger. An art form lost.
Internet has disconnected us from each other at an alarming rate. Making us dependent on cold electronic substitutes. If we keep on going on the current path, we’ll lose the ability to connect to others completely within 25 years. A dystopia for sure. I don’t think this will happen though. I’m going to do what I just called a folly two paragraphs ago. I’m going to make my prediction about the next twenty-five years of world wide web.
I think we will see a further deterioration in the upcoming five to ten years at least. Maybe longer. But then finally, when things seem truly hopeless, we will have created the technology to advance us to the next phase. See, right now, we as humans have become the limiting factor. We’re holding the internet back by having silly emotions and needs like feeling connected. We’re at conflict with technology because we have difficulty balancing it with our human needs. There is an age old wisdom that you shouldn’t look for the solution in someone or something that caused the problem in the first place. However, I believe the internet might be the exception. We’ve become disconnected from each other because we connected with electronics.
What if we manage to connect further to it? Connect to it on a deeper level? On a level where it understands our deepest thoughts and desires? Have you ever been on a date where at the end of the night you were on your way home wondering if the other person liked you? Whether there will be a second date? My prediction is that our children will never know that feeling. I believe in a future where internet allows us to interact with others on a deeper level than we ever have. To interact with someone and truly understand them. To be able to love and trust them completely. Imagine a dating website that is able to match you to your best possible match. Physical distances become unimportant as you date “the one” who just happens to live on another continent. You may not even speak the same language. It won’t matter. Your brains are interacting on a much deeper level where there are no language barriers. Loneliness will be something of the past which kids read about in schoolbooks (that is if there will still be books in 25 years (or schools for that matter)). I think we have an unique opportunity in the next twenty-five years. We have an unprecedented technology that is still mouldable into pretty much anything we can think off. We need to take that opportunity by the horns right now though. Otherwise it will be lost forever in loneliness, watching cat videos in 4-D or something.
I promised to give you the title of the painting. It’s “Who’s longing is it anyways?”
P.S.: In case you’re wondering. The thick blotchy paint used only on the hand and the face was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to see how increasing the volume of the paint itself on some parts affects a painting. Turns out it makes my wallet hate me as it costs about 3x as much in paint (and thus money). Let me know if you like it though!