Opinion: Digipocalypse Now

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer is a senior anthropology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Imagine all of the files in your computer: all of the pictures, songs, videos, essays, games and lolcats that live comfortably within the confines of your computer’s hard drive. Now, imagine printing out all of the information on your computer and seeing it in person.

We’ve all grown attached to the data inside of our computers, and sometimes we learn this fact the hard way. Anyone who has ever had the soul-crushing experience of losing a computer without backing up knows what I’m talking about.

Aside from all of the files on your computer, think of how much data you have accessed from the Internet in your entire life. How many volumes of YouTube videos, Facebook posts and news articles would be in your analog-digital library?

How did we begin to rely on the consumption of so much data? The advent of hypertext has facilitated a phenomenal global shift in sociocultural identity and fueled a dependency on massive and rapid information consumption.

Hypertext is when, on a website, you click on an underlined word to send you to another document or site. As mundane as it sounds, hypertext is likely one of humanity’s greatest inventions that you never really think about. With hypertext, we have the ability to create documents that have information in them that directly links to other information. The ability for hypertext to organize and compartmentalize data is infinite. Hypertext has allowed for humans to create and consume so much data, so rapidly, that our brains and personal identities are changing as a result.

Computers are so intimately integrated into our lives that they have begun to function as auxiliary components to our brains. We use the physical memory on a computer to not only store data, but also to store our own digital memories. Our computers have become external brains, where we can challenge the epistemological limits of the human mind and experience a grand clairvoyance greater than that of any other generation of humans in history.

We live our lives in diametrically opposed and integrated worlds; we are both organic and electric. In the age of the Internet, we really live two lives and maintain two (or more) unique identities. The digital you is just as real as the biological you, if not more real. Your digital self is crafted directly by your consciousness and is an exact reflection of the self you want to be.

The Internet has given us total control over who we are, and how we live our lives. Now, as our digital and biological lives converge, it is very important to understand the importance personal data has in nearly every faucet of the new human experience.

Losing a computer is becoming not only a painful nuisance, but also a direct existential challenge to our emerging digital selves. In order to avoid catastrophic data loss, I recommend thoroughly backing up your files in both the cloud and on a physical, external hard drive. By doing this, you insure yourself against losing a potentially significant part of your memory, life, and identity.